31 December 2021

Special Tribute to My Friend, Joseph Inns

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
 — Helen Keller

A Special Tribute and Last Photography Experience with my Best Friend, Joseph Inns, who passed away in April 2021 

This image was published by National Geographic after our first and unfortunatly only visit to photograph the inspirational architecture of the museum.

I still miss you like crazy, big fellow....

From National Geographic's Explore Epic South Africa:

Up the Silos at Zeitz MOCAA V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

“I spent some quality time with my friend / photographer, Joseph Inns, exploring the Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. We visited most of the art exhibitions inside the museum, but will return at a later date for more detailed exhibition photography.” - VERNON CHALMERS

A vast, disused grain silo complex overlooking Cape Town’s historic, working harbor now holds the world’s largest museum for contemporary African art. Spread over nine floors, the Zeitz MOCAA has 80 galleries and a cathedral-like atrium, carved from the silo’s original storage tubes: an incredible transformation that honors the old, while giving center stage to the new.

Copyright: National Geographic | Vernon Chalmers

National Geographic Source / Reference

Vernon Chalmers Photography Source / Reference

Mental Health and Motivation : Vernon Chalmers Special Tribute to My Friend, Joseph Inns
Mental Health and Motivation Vernon Chalmers : Special Tribute to My Friend, Joseph Inns 

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns

01 October 2021

The Challenge of Cognitive Dissonance

The Challenge of Cognitive Dissonance
"One of the hardest things to do in life, is letting go of what you thought was real." — me.me

Omnipresence of Cognitive Dissonance

During the past year I referred to Cognitive Dissonance in several of my articles and Facebook comments. 

Now, in the final stretch and conclusion of my own ‘healing journey’, herewith an explanation, own interpretation and personal experience on how Cognitive Dissonance can sometimes cause incessant confusion, uncertainty and disparity in our minds.

Many of us may suffer from a degree of Cognitive Dissonance at some time in our lives - meaning we are challenged by a mental discomfort and / or mental conflict when dealing with toxic people (or habits) in our minds, but struggle to let them go.

Powerful 'positive' thoughts of what 'could be' overwhelms the mind as we are challenged by the paradoxical thinking of them being, perhaps, just misunderstood or needing more time rather to accept them as abusive and toxic (towards us). For many of us this is difficult to comprehend - that someone in our lives that was once so charming and nice can become so abusive and evil. 

We know they are not good for us, they function different from our own beliefs, personal values and / or expectations, but we still maintain contact with them - or worse-case scenario, stay committed in an abusive relationship. We don't really want to let them go, but at the same time live in fear (and disappointment) of their dysfunctional behaviour. 

Even while experiencing continuous abuse we try and hang on to the mirage at any (emotional / physical) cost - in the hope that their toxic behaviour against us will change. The sad reality is that abusive behaviour without any personal ownership, psychotherapy and / or psychiatric intervention won't change, can't change.  

The continuous cognitive disparity between the positive belief in someone and the conflicting negative thoughts / disappointment with regard to an individual's antisocial behaviour can have a significant impact on our own mental health and well-being.

I have experienced cognitive dissonance during an intimate relationship. Although I was subjected to perpetual emotional, physical and verbal abuse I still believed in the relationship and wanted it to succeed. In the end, after a few months, my rational mind concluded that for my own safety and sanity it would be best to end the relationship.

© Vernon Chalmers

My thoughts on Love, Loss and Grief

My thoughts on Love, Loss and Grief
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

When we lose good people that were close to us the loss / pain is almost incomprehensible to self and in explanation to others.

I lost my mother in March 2017 and it took me quite some time to process and properly grieve this loss.

Today I cherish her life and am thankful for the legacy she left with her good values, gratitude and unconditional love.

The same can be said of my friend, Joseph Inns, who passed away in April 2021. A true giant among men...

The Mental Health and Motivation journaling has assisted me in many ways for coming to terms with the two significant personal losses I have experienced during 2020 / 2021 - my girlfriend at the time and my friend, Joseph. The second loss of Joseph was the most poignant. The writing and publication on this public domain also provided definite content, context and reference to my sense of self in dealing with the aftermath of the abusive and toxic relationship towards the end of 2020.

Late December 2019 I have had the privilege to be joined by both of them at Intaka Island - a popular nature reserve (for bird photographers) in Cape Town. This was one of the proudest moments of my entire life - introducing my girlfriend to my best friend at a venue where we all shared a common interest - nature photography. Little did I know that just over a year from our special morning that both these significant individuals would be lost from my physical life, forever. Coming to terms with the disappointment of this double loss and associated trauma drifted me, at times, into a whirlpool of emotions I have never experienced before.

When you lose someone (death or otherwise) that was severely compromised in the application of basic values, healthy emotions and expectations the 'wound' can take a long time to heal. If you lose somebody in love, in my opinion, the mourning and healing is a sad, but a 'healthy' grieving process.

Losing someone out of fear and disappointment (due to abuse, continuous emotional disconnect and / or trauma bond) the healing process could be riddled with post-relationship anxiety and stress.

There is no legacy, there is no 'statue' in the mind for emotional perpetrators. I had to learn new ways to deal with my thoughts and now I am grateful for letting someone go that I thought I would never forgive for the verbal, physical and psychological abuse incurred.

Although I was scared of her physical or verbal attacks on me, I was more fearful that I would lose her. My emotion on the attacks was of disasopigment and I believed that the situation would improve. A classic example how cognitive dissonance controlled my mind.

The essence of self-preservation were the months that I had to go into the darkness of my soul with no torch / no light to face myself, to learn more about the rawness of the dejected self - in honesty and fairness of who I was, want to be, will be, can / could be... without judgement, prejudice and / or fear.

From Fearful Loss to Acceptance 
After completing my My Lessons / Achievements from an Abusive Relationship article I felt a great sense of closure and relief. The core of my true self, through time, introspection and learning, was being restored by facing up to the acceptance of a failed relationship that once consumed not only my mind, but every fibre of my rational and emotional being.

Acceptance is an essential realisation of being at peace with the true self - the same self that was once simultaneously immersed in the cognitive dissonance of loving (and the fear of leaving) someone that neither respected nor trusted my integrity, goodwill and / or values. 

The authentic self should always emerge, if allowed... not in relation to others first, but to the self first. This does not mean I diminish the roles others play in my life, their roles are meaningful - when they are 'healthy' individuals."

Update: 2022

I have never been back to Intaka Island - its one of the few (external) psychological barriers I still need to overcome (in dealing with both losses). Other challenges that I did manage to overcome were four photography morning visits to the African Art & Craft Market, Simon's Town, African Art & Textiles Market Hout Bay Harbour, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the V&A Waterfront and Signal Hill, Cape Town. The last photography opportunity I've shared just with my friend, Joseph Inns, was at the contemporary African art museum Zeitz MOCAA V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

© Vernon Chalmers

25 August 2021

My Lessons / Achievements from an Abusive Relationship

My Lessons / Achievements from an Abusive Relationship
"Remove yourself from people who treat you like your time doesn’t matter, like your feelings are worthless, or like your soul is replaceable" — s.mcnutt

Abusive Relationship / Trauma Recovery

Learning from an Abusive Relationship

25 August 2021 marked my one year anniversary after leaving an abusive, violent and overall toxic relationship. It was an emotionally charged and challenging year, especially the first couple of months. I had to come to terms with getting out of the FOG (Fear | Obligation | Guilt) for letting go and walking away from someone that I thought (at the time) I have fallen in love with.
I have written extensively here on my Mental Health and Motivation website about some of my now ex girlfriend's unacceptable behaviour that I was subjected to during the relationship. I will therefore not repeat the well-documented encounters of her abusive behaviour against me, her chronic lack of gratitude, the many overt and covert relationship red flags, my paradoxical cognitive dissonance and / or my interpretation of love, loss and grief.

25 August was my late mother's birthday. Celebrating this special day with her was one of the highlights of every year while she was alive. It is ironic that 25 August is now also associated with reminiscing the most challenging relationship of my life. It was not in any way scripted like this, but rather the unfortunate unfolding of events after some unjustified abusive behaviour towards me. I don't mind sharing this day between one of the best and the most disappointing relationships of my life - it places my mother's sincere character and sense of gratitude into such a healthy perspective (and positive reinforcement of how I should conduct myself in the presence of all other).

A year ago I reluctantly, but sensibly removed myself from a toxic relationship with an attractive, intelligent and charming woman (albeit with an unashamed false sense of entitlement and the definite queen of grandiosity at times). Her initial impeccable character and intellect, at least in my presence,  gradually made way for a staggering flow of abusive behaviour against me. After a few months of various unprovoked physical and verbal attacks I faced the daunting realisation of being close to the edge of clinical exhaustion as a result of a perpetual trauma bond with an emotionally unstable partner.

I isolated myself for a few weeks in going No Contact for essentially reflecting on her poor time management, limited empathy, abusive behaviour, lack of remorse etc. that unfortunatly created an overwhelmingly toxic relationship environment. I realised that I cannot continue to ignore the increasing red flags any longer. After a rather dramatic detachment I was consumed with disappointment and grief.  I spent the next year in not only researching the psychological 'cause and effect' of antisocial relationship behaviour, but also assessing (and understanding) my own codependent behaviour vulnerabilities for staying in an abusive relationship. 

🎓 What I have Learned after leaving an abusive significant other (and the relationship)
  • I cannot take responsibility for someone else's (antisocial) behaviour, I did not cause her inherent propensity towards aggressive tendencies and I do not have to be in the 'firing line' of any abusive and antisocial behaviour towards me. I can only control my own behaviour towards other people and that I should be more mindful in terms of my own judgement, decision-making and social behaviour towards the actions and reactions of other people (in an intimate relationship and / or otherwise).
  • That I should be more vigilant towards pathological behaviour patterns and obvious and / or covert (silent) red flags during any stage of an intimate relationship. I've read, researched and listened to an extensive range of world-class intimate relationship abuse recovery and psychology resources. Not only for the identification / understanding of psychopathy and related (spectrum) personality disorder traits, but also for assisting me with reference to responsible (re)actions towards any antisocial behaviour.
  • That there are indeed people who cannot say 'thank you' - with a preconditioned disregard for not expressing any gratitude whatsoever. It was the first time in my life that I have experienced such a profound sense of self-entitlement (for any received goodwill) and / or deliberate rejection of thankfulness. It took me a while to understand and except that I should not just assume someone will say 'thank you'.
  • To address and improve my own relationship codependency behaviour in terms of setting healthy boundaries by not accepting any destructive behaviour tendencies towards me, not trying to please other people and not to feel / be responsible as a 'caregiver' when a more mature relationship disposition is required.
  • That processing, letting go and healing from an abusive / toxic relationship is an emotionally challenging detachment, especially without (proper) closure. It required a conscientious effort of personal introspection, own behaviour modification, resilience, forgiveness and acceptance to move beyond the realms of just accepting someone else's (false) sense of entitlement, lack of respect and incessant aggressive behaviour tendencies. 
  • Recovery and healing time from an abusive relationship is a different journey for anyone going through the challenge(s) of detaching from an unfortunate trauma bond. Its easy (in hindsight) to say it took me a year. A year ago I had no idea how long it would take - some days It felt it would never happen. 

🎓 What I have Achieved after leaving an abusive significant other (and the relationship)
  • Apart from gaining an extensive body of additional psychological reference knowledge I have had many opportunities for discussing the abusive relationship with family members, friends and professional contacts. I did not (at any stage) consider professional counseling, but rather through no further contact, self-determination, honest reflection and informal psychodynamic talk therapy (with my professional contacts) pursued improved control over my own cognitive dissonance, emotional conditioning and relevant behaviour modification.
  • During the relationship (and extended aftermath) I lost some of my creativity, daily motivation and sense of self. My own photography was severely compromised for focusing almost exclusively on someone else's omnipresent needs and wants. It took me months for regaining my normal confident self, my interest in my own photography, photography training and the daily management of my CFD trading portfolios.
  • Spending less time reading and researching about the 'cause and effect' of antisocial behaviour / personality disorders. I spend more time lately with my own photography and the daily reading / researching about trading and investment opportunities / threats.
  • The ability to once again engage with a variety of people with trust, effective communication and the setting of assertive personal boundaries (when and where required). It has happened a few times recently where I had to set and enforce personal boundaries for protecting my privacy and personal space.
  • I have always considered empathy and gratitude as important personal / relationship qualities - its only now that I truly understand the impact and consequences when these emotional values are vaguely selective or completely absent from someone's Emotional Intelligence repertoire. The words 'thank you' became the most important words in my vocabulary over the last year. 
  • Spending relatively long periods in solitude without anxiety (and worrying) about someone else's feelings, actions and reactions. Many hours were consumed with soul searching / self analysis to eventually emerge with a renewed sense of self-awareness, continuous self-enrichment and an ever increasing emotional intelligence.      

Throughout the last year I have had invaluable private conversations with many people about the toxic dynamics of this abusive relationship and the eroding effect on my emotional wellbeing. I was brutally honest in describing the essence of every (physical) attack towards me, the utter disrespect for my integrity and her grandiose disdain for everything that I tirelessly offered during the relationship.

Letting go of this transactional, abusive and toxic relationship was not an achievement as such, but rather the acceptance of ending a dramatic trauma bond that had the toxic dynamics to cause severe (and possibly long-term) negative consequences. I was unfortunatly enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship with someone that was emotionally stunted in the ability to trust, love and / or respect others as part of the reciprocal values required for an emotionally stable relationship.

Update: February 2022

Acceptance, healing and rebuilding
What made the acceptance so much more sustainable was the realisation that the grief of losing someone special does not have to go away. What did go away eventually was my fear of letting go. This quote by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler provided me with the necessary perspective and solace for moving on - “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

Having accepted the undercurrent ebb and flow presence of my grief  (and trauma frim the abuse) I find myself thinking less and less of this specific grief / trauma (and person). The ever-consuming dark thoughts of grief, loss and associated trauma made way for more coherent thinking and mindful living of being in the moment - focussing on the daily awareness of here and now... It took me more than 18 months of introspection, reflection and soul searching to finally arrive at the other side of this profound and self-enriching journey.

My Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

© Vernon Chalmers

01 July 2021

Alcohol Overconsumption (warning to self and others)

Alcohol Overconsumption
If you take control of your behavior, your emotions will fall into place.” ― John C Maxwell

How the loss of two significant people in my life had an adverse effect on my alcohol consumption and sense of self

I have always considered myself nothing more than a casual wine and occasional whisky drinker. Like so many of my generation I was introduced to alcohol soon after leaving school, during my military service and have enjoyed social drinking throughout my student / adult life. 

As a post-graduate student I attended an Alcohol Addiction and Recovery 12-Step Programme at an Alcohol Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre in Cape Town. This was part of an Industrial Psychology module for identifying (and remedial management of) alcohol abuse in the workplace. Throughout this very informative week I was made well aware of the risks associated with alcohol overconsumption and / or abuse.

When my mother passed away in 2017 it was a huge shock to my emotional self, but thinking back to that sad period which lasted on / off for about 18 months, I consumed less alcohol in what I would normally do. A considerable part of this period was introspection in which I consumed no alcohol for weeks at a time. Alcohol consumption was probably limited to one bottle of wine per week (if that) - and the occasional whiskey with friends after work - probably once or twice a month.

My social drinking behaviour changed in 2019 after I met the woman I would have a ten month emotionally taxing relationship with. During this period we consumed substantial quantities of the best estate wines available on the local market. This was the first time in my life in which I would consume alcohol almost on a daily basis. We would cook together and go away weekends - always with a few bottles of red and white wine as part of the social routine. During the Covid lockdown Levels Five and Four we went through extraordinary efforts to source anything from wine, whiskey and / or gin. Throughout the relationship the alcohol consumption would average at two to three bottles of wine per night - not every night, but most nights.  

Relationship Abuse and Withdrawal
After about three to four months into this relationship I was unfortunatly subjected to physical, psychological and verbal abuse. This was not due to the effect of alcohol, but rather the antisocial result(s) of a destructive range of underlying grandiose and pathological behaviour traits. After about nine months I decided to physically withdraw from the relationship and ended up living in my studio apartment on my own. This became the most excruciating and saddest time of my life and I went into a stress / anxiety state I have never experienced before. I was sad and I was hurting - today I know I endured a variety of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms during this isolation period.  I suffered severe anxiety, quilt, insomnia and constant flashbacks and I would withdrew myself further and further emotionally from the relationship and everybody else around me. 

To cope with the incessant emotional darkness and PTSD symptoms I started drinking gin & tonic on most afternoons to somewhat numb this severe emptiness - and to help me fall asleep. I would wake up every morning at about 03:00 and start reading and by 09:00 would do whatever I needed to do with my stock market trading and the daily updating of my photography websites. I repeated this routine from August to December 2020. During January and February 2021 I stopped and would not drink for weeks at a time - quite aware of the potential problems that alcohol could cause. 

I was still struggling with the breakdown of the relationship and the darkness inside and around me continued to consume my thoughts, my energy - basically everything in / around me was focused around the relationship - the loss of the most significant person in my life (at the time). 

During April 2021 I was getting a handle on dealing with the relationship breakup. I started to accept the reality that the loss of the love of my life was permanent. My intense anxiety and stress subsided somewhat, although the cognitive dissonance, flashbacks and insomnia continued. 

The Loss of my Friend, Joseph Inns
My emotional state took a turn for the worse when one of my best friends, Joseph Inns, passed away on 19 April 2021 after suffering metastatic cancer for the last year and six months. I was aware of his illness all the time, but as the end became inevitably closer it made me just more emotional. After his passing and before / after his memorial service I started drinking even more alcohol for numbing my pain - for him and my failed relationship with my girlfriend.

It was not until late April 2021 that I woke up one morning and realised that I'm going to far with my drinking. I realised that the alcohol is making my anxiety worse and the worse it got the more I wanted to numb my double-pain with alcohol. I phoned my sister and gave her a brutally honest account of my emotional state and current drinking habits. 

I quit drinking on that Tuesday and went through a period of about two weeks of mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. I never thought about the prolonged physical impact that the sudden alcohol abstinence would have on me. Nevertheless, I endured the withdrawal symptoms, did not feel like drinking and bought a pair of running shoes. Not for running, but to get in a healthier lifestyle of no alcohol and walking a few kilometers every day. 

Learning Through Relationships
During this difficult period in my life I learned to separate my two major 2020 / 2021 losses. I walked away from an abusive relationship and had to manage the void, disappointment and cognitive dissonance the loss of the relationship created in my mind. I now mourn the loss of my good friend, Joseph, the same way I mourned the loss of my mother. He was a good man with good values and with the acceptance of his loss I now have finally engaged, as with my mother, in a substantially healthier grieving process.

Since September 2020 I have received tremendous support from quite a diverse group of people in Cape Town and abroad. Many of them have been in my life for years, but a few others came from almost nowhere with insight and wisdom. I respected and learned from everybody's advice and recommendations. I owe all of them mountains of gratitude. Thank you!

I am currently doing a lot of research, soul searching, writing and walking to help me understand (abusive) relationship loss, trauma and substance abuse - and the impact that these two significant personal losses had on my life. I realized that alcohol overconsumption is never the answer for overcoming the emotional darkness of the soul. 

Overcoming Abuse and Trauma
For assistance with a deeper understanding on overcoming these psychological obstacles I've researched the consequences of alcohol abuse and the impact of trauma after an abusive relationship. I have found the 'Compassionate Inquiry' work of Dr. Gabor Maté - renown international addiction and trauma expert - for his psychotherapeutic approach towards the understanding of trauma and addiction, extremely helpful. Dr. Maté's  books and YouTube videos have had a tremendous positive impact on my current situation, my alcohol consumption scare and dealing with the loss of two significant people in my life.

Small lifestyle changes of regular exercise, a healthier diet and a reduced alcohol consumption are having a beneficial impact on my mental and physical health. I have established new daily routines with set priorities towards my business, photography, mental health and fitness goals.

© Vernon Chalmers

Some of my latest photography at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: View herehere and here.

Substance Abuse and Alcoholism Resources

01 May 2021

Visit to the Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay

Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay Cape Town For Joseph Inns Copyright Vernon Chalmers
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

African Art & Textile Images for Joseph Inns

Bay Harbour Market - Hout Bay Harbour Cape Town

On Wednesday morning (28 April 2021) Karen Donaldson and I – both friends of the late Joseph Inns, went to Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town, along the Atlantic Seaboard, to reminisce and grieve our relationship with our very special friend.

I’ve captured many images of Hout Bay Harbour before, with its 'picture-perfect' fishing boats, fresh fish for sale, impressive flotilla of yachts and glorious surrounding mountains. But for Joseph, I wanted something different.

For this post I selected four vibrant colour images from the Bay Harbour Market (African Art and Textiles) - for my friend that will best represent his love for Africa, Art, Colour and Simplicity. That they were all captured from the exquisite craftmanship from African artists and crafters next to the blue waters of the Cape Peninsula coast made it that more special for me.

Joseph taught me to see the light, he taught me composition, but above all, he taught me patience… with respect and sincere gratitude. 

Although he was a more experienced photographer (as lecturer and professional) he never wilfully tried to teach me anything specific about photography and / or composition. He respected my technical camera / exposure knowledge, but always patiently listened to my many, many questions and answered each with confidence, insight, experience and example - with the wisdom of a true master and teacher.

All four Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town Artist and Crafter images are dedicated to our very special friend, Joseph Inns.

Photographed and published with permission from the Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town Artists and Crafters.

Hout Bay Harbour Cape Town African Art & Textiles : Images © Vernon Chalmers

Table Mountain & Township - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay, Cape Town- For Joseph Inns Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Table Mountain & Township - Bay Harbour Hout Bay, Cape Town - For Joseph Inns

Vibrant Colours - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay, Cape Town - For Joseph Inns Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Vibrant Colours - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay, Cape Town - For Joseph Inns

Vibrant Colours - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay - For Joseph Inns Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Vibrant Colours - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay, Cape Town - For Joseph Inns

Soul of Africa - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay - For Joseph Inns Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Soul of Africa - Bay Harbour Market Hout Bay, Cape Town - For Joseph Inns

African Art & Craft Market - Boulders Beach, Simon's Town, Cape Town

20 April 2021

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns
"You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your friends." – Mark Twain

Yesterday, Monday, 19 April 2021 at 00.06, one of my best friends, Joseph Inns, passed away after suffering metastatic cancer for more than the last year and six months.

He phoned me on Valentine’s Day 2020 in Cape Town to convey the tragic news. I cried, I’m still crying after the loss of this giant of a man. He was the most peaceful person in my life and I believe, in many people’s lives.

I’ve known him for 28 years – as lecturers – as business partners – as photographers – as friends – together we dreamed of conquering our world(s) – and we did.

In many ways he was my inspiration into photography. I believed in his passion, his image making and above all, his endless patience.
Today I’m sad, very sad, but it’s a 'positive' sadness. He is / was a very good man with exemplary values of kindness and gratitude.

He left a legacy to many - he left me a better person than ever before. Like many; his family, all the photographers in his life and I (and so many others) will mourn his loss – and I will build a big statute for the big man here right inside of me.

Reflections of My Life: Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns
The Life of Joseph Inns : Image Credit: Joseph Inns family
As for me – Joseph will never be gone – he will keep living in a very special place throughout my existence
as a person.

We will never forget you, Joseph.
Rest in Peace, Big Fellow.

As I recently replied to his wife, Janice Inns, on the Joseph Inns Memorial invitation "I just cannot believe it when I look at the memorial invitation - its unreal. I am so sad, its the same sadness as when my mom died.

I miss Joseph - just the emotional connectness we had. And can just about imagine how you and the family must feel. Mike also messaged me on Monday. But, be proud, he was the best of the best. I learned a lot from him. He calmed me down in ways nobody else could."

The Life of Joseph Inns - Memorial Service 26 April 2021 10:00.
I wrote this to my friend in France on 26 April 2021 - after the memorial Service. (she's been going through the motions with me for months of Joseph's illness) "I listened carefully to every word spoken about my friend at his service and the words that came out from all the speakers were Compassion / Care / Non-Judgmental / Artist / Creative / Love / Peace - all values words. He was all of this - and more. He did not try and be this, he was this - every time I saw him - for 28 years in our friendship."

I forwarded above message to Joseph's wife - Janice, as well.

It was a beautiful tribute for Joseph at the Bloemhof Restaurant in Bo Oakdale, Cape Town and many people presented their love, feelings and celebrations for the Life of Joseph Inns.  I re-connected with my of my old time friends during this informal service. Due to COVID there were not many people there, but of those there, Joseph touched us all in a very special way. 

© Vernon Chalmers

Attached Butterfly Image: From the Joseph Inns Collection. Photographer: Joseph Inns (with one of his beloved Nikon cameras).

The Joseph Inns Story By His Wife Janice Inns Dignity SA

01 April 2021

From Darkness into Light...

From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino

At Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town  (for turning sadness in happy and inspirational moments - for being in the moment)

It was with eager anticipation that I prepared my camera bag for an early morning photography session at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. I have not been there in more than a year - and at the time was left with sad memories of a special person that unfortunatly consumed to much of my life.

On this glorious and fresh sunny Friday morning I went back to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden with one of my photography club friends, Karen Donaldson, (a dear friend of mine for many years and also a friend of my best friend, Joseph Inns, who is now very ill - I've never been to Kirstenbosch with either of them).

I had one of the very best mornings ever at Kirstenbosch, free to roam the gardens and to think about love, life and to share the crispness of the beautiful morning with a real friend.

Love and Fear
In "Conversations with God", Neale Walsch wrote something to this effect, what God said - "When you meet your biggest Love, you will meet your biggest Fear". I grappled with this for months. I became Fear.... and this was so profoundly true - in every breath I took. It took me months and months of working through personal conditioning efforts to understand / unpack this Fear. - it was a case of my own cognitive awareness of trying to recondition my brain for overcoming this Fear (and the lingering sadness).

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light...  Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Personal Support
I've had the greatest support over the last 6 - 8 months to get my mojo as photographer and person back. It will be unfair to identify any individual in my healing, but you know who you are.

Some of of you I unfriended from Facebook, because any reminders of her which was hurting me to the core, was just to challenging at times. I will never forget you, your words, your wisdom, to carry me back into the true light of life and photography.

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Update: 25 August 2021
Its been a year since I walked away and removed myself from this abusive and toxic relationship. I have certainly gained a fair amount of (relationship) behavioural knowledge and understanding during this soul-searching journey. It will still require some processing to finally let this relationship slide completely into the past.

The flashbacks and feeling of disappointment still lingers, but I have to steer the course towards a life without reminding myself of the constant misery and sadness that consumed my being.

Returning to Kirstenbosch
I have been back to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden quite a few times for small bird and flower photography since writing this post earlier in 2021. It is definably becoming easier to go back. I have had some wonderful photography mornings there - images can be viewed here, here and here.

From Therapeutic Journaling to Online Publishing

© Vernon Chalmers

Image Information

Image 1: Strelitzia Flower Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 2: African Monarch Butterfly Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 3: Cape Robin-Chat Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 4: Pincushion Protea Flower Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers
From Darkness into Light... Pincushion Protea Flower : Kirstenbosch, Cape Town

Abusive and Violent Behaviour Against Me

Abusive and Violent Behaviour Against Me
"For any man who was emotionally, physically, verbally and / or sexuality abused by a woman (in any intimate relationship) it is not a shame, but rather a disrespect and violation of the man's body, character, integrity and values. Do not retaliate with force, but rather end the relationship as soon as possible. Physical assault by a significant other is a criminal offence - treat it as such. I wish I did at the time." — Vernon Chalmers

Intimate Partner Abuse and Violence 

When the first verbal and physical threats occurred about four months into the relationship I was overwhelmed with my ex-girlfriend's threatening and aggressive behaviour towards me.

I was oblivious to the fact that she was capable of this aggressive behaviour (although at that stage I was well aware of her at-times callous and self-centered nature). I was therefor quite shocked and visibly shaken when threatened with a knife one evening - with the words to literally kill me, followed up by some nasty and belittling name-calling.
Checkmate: be careful what you wish for...
All of this happened because I won her in a couple of chess games one evening. It was the first time we played chess together. She was nagging me for weeks to play, but I was reluctant because I haven't played for the last 30 years (and according to her she claimed to be a very good chess player). Nevertheless, we played one evening and lo and behold I won the first two games, she won the third game and I won another one or two games. Immediately after this she became angry at me and when trying to calm her down (and touched her on the sides of her arms ) all hell broke loose - she started shouting and raging at me - threatened me with her chef's knife. Followed by a barrage of verbal abuse of utter disrespectful name calling, but I did not retaliate and waited for her to calm down.

I was in an absolute daze. It took me a few days to process her aggressive action. I knew I was treading in potentially dangerous (pathological) behaviour territory as far as her explosive rage was concerned, but decided to stay. I did not receive an apology and when I tried to discuss this unfortunate incident with her there was absolutely no conversation, just a blank stare and an agony of silence. I parked her unacceptable behaviour in the 'back of my mind' for the time being and we carried on with our lives.

Physical assault
Late one evening, a few weeks later, I was physically attacked by her. I was punched, my clothes ripped off my body and I was screamed and shouted at. I went into a state of shock, did not retaliate and told her that it would be best for me to leave. She said nothing, just grabbed all her house keys (there was no way for me to get out) and locked herself inside the bedroom. Again, I did not retaliate, I calmed myself down and planned an exit strategy. A couple of minutes later she returned from the bedroom and I said to her that it would be best for me to go home. I had a few things in her bedroom that I wanted to collect and as I was picking up my camera bag, I was intentionally and forcefully hit over the head, from behind, with quite a large chocolate Easter bunny. It scattered in hundreds of little bits all over the floor - I was dumbstruck and confused by her senseless explosive anger. I realised then there is no way that I will be able to leave and waited for her to calm down - which she eventually did.

All of this happened because I switched the television of while she was apparently watching. Well, she wasn't watching, she came out of the shower and I was also ready to go to bed. As I was switching the television off she entered the living room and then it was when all hell broke lose again. I knew she was edgy during the evening, but had no idea what was about to happen later.

Ongoing verbal abuse
In trying to discuss this the next day, or any day thereafter, I received no discussion or apology from her - just the blank stare again. I knew that the relationship was in a danger zone (at least from my perspective), but still decided to stay. I stayed another three months. During this time we had some good times, but this was also the time that the verbal abuse (mainly over the telephone) would escalate to a weekly episode - generally on a Thursday or a Friday.

The physical and continued verbal abuse combined with her ever increasing lack of gratitude, and low levels of empathy / remorse made me not to return to her, but stay in my own apartment for a couple of weeks. This is where I struggled the most with understanding my situation - I was in love with an intelligent and smart woman, but she would frequently engage in uncontrolled anger episodes towards me which can only be described as an uncontrollable narcissistic rage when her needs and / or unrealistic expectations were not met / or when she experienced setbacks and disappointments.

Identifying the disorderly behaviour
Being on my own, at times, I tried understand her behaviour, my responsibility in potentially triggering this antisocial behaviour and the future of this relationship. As I started researching and identifying many of her inappropriate (and unprovoked) behaviours toward me I realised that this is a common behavioural theme with many people associated with (or diagnosed with) a Cluster B personality disorder i.e. borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), histrionic personality (HPD) disorder and / antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). I could unfortunately identify many traits and red flags across the Cluster B personality / mood disorder spectrum. Note: these are my own assumptions / interpretations and I believe each situation (and person) will have his or her reasons for executing these alarming and gratuitous behaviour traits / patterns. 

I also realised that although I loved this woman there is no way I could continue a relationship with her. I started examining my sense of sadness and confronting the darkness of my mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms manifesting through continuous anxiety, fear, hypervigilance, insomnia and guilt.

My family and friends also requested me to stay away from her. I went completely No Contact in September 2020 and still maintain this today. I'm slowly coming to terms with all of this. The FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) is lifting, my cognitive dissonance is slowly dissipating and the majority of my PTSD symptoms are making way for a healthier lifestyle through increased motivation, creative activities and physical fitness.

Restoring a Sense of Calm

01 March 2021

From Left Brain to Right Brain Education and Training

When I was a young first-year student I made a promise, if ever given the opportunity, I will educate / train others for the rest of my life.” ― Vernon Chalmers

Vernon Chalmers Labour Relations Training SAS Simonsberg Simon's Town Photo Credit: SA Navy : Mental Health and Motivation
Labour Relations Training SAS Simonsberg Simon's Town, Cape Town Photo Credit: SA Navy

Image 1: Vernon Chalmers Training Officer South African Navy
Students and me (I’m back row on the left) from my first ever self-designed training course (on Labour Relations) - as a young training officer / labour relations consultant (responsible for Military Leadership / Military Management / Labour Relations Strategy and Consulting) for the SA Navy at the Military Training School, SAS Simonsberg, Simon’s Town and the SA Naval Staff College (for Naval Officer Training) in Muizenberg during the early 1990’s. Some of my (personal) biggest achievements where two Chief of the SA Navy Awards for Labour Relations / Military Management Training and being selected as a member of the Chief of the SA Navy's Steering Committee for Military Management and Leadership.

Moving from Left Brain to Right Brain Education and Training

Academic / Private Sector Education and Training 
In-between the Image 1 and Image 2 was quite a journey. During these years I had the privilege of lecturing (and designing / facilitating many training courses) at various business schools, universities and private training institutions across South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban). I was provided many opportunities for lecturing / facilitating subjects such as Strategic Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Training Management, Labour Relations, Marketing Management, Industrial Psychology, Organisational Behaviour, Corporate Communications, Economics, Accountancy, Project Management, Information Systems Integration, Entrepreneurship, E-Commerce Strategy, Internet Marketing and Social Media Strategy & Marketing.

Privilege and Responsibility
I never had a favourite or preferred subject. The privilege to contribute to so many careers and lives came with an enormous sense of responsibility and motivation during the entire left brain lecturing / facilitation period. I have very fond memories of lecturing at the SA Navy's Military Training School / Naval Staff College. I enjoyed the discipline, military organisational structure and the close-knit social environment. One thing I did not really enjoy after leaving the SA Navy was the endless driving between university campuses during the week and many Saturday mornings, but always with the same objectives of being prepared and never to be a minute late (albeit with the same privilege and motivation).

Paradigm Shift: Education to Training
Since 2010 I started with a complete paradigm shift, transitioning from the above to photography. I transformed my photography hobby into an educational, training and support system by first educating myself with a thorough academic understanding of the art and science of photography, followed by application through the research, design, development and facilitation of various Canon EOS Camera & Photography Workshops and currently, one-on-one Training Programmes (Birds in Flight / Landscape / Macro / Speedlite Flash / Lightroom Post-Processing) at my training studio apartment (opposite Woodbridge Island).

My friend and former business partner, Joseph Inns, played an extraordinary role in assisting me with my transition into photography. He's knowledge, experience and personal qualities guided me in more ways he would ever have known. Joseph unfortunately passed away in 2021. I dearly miss my friend, but will never forget the impact he has made on my career and life. Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns

Delegates during a Vernon Chalmers Landscape Practical Session on Milnerton Beach : Mental Health and Motivation
Delegates during a Landscape Practical Session Milnerton Beach, Cape Town : Photo Credit: Steve Williams

Image 2: Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Milnerton / Woodbridge Island

Students during a recent Landscape / Seascape Photography Workshop at Milnerton Beach. Theory (settings / composition) was presented at Intaka Island and practical sessions for Canon and Nikon photographers were facilitated around Woodbridge Island and Milnerton Beach.  About everything during the years stayed the same (although I have completely changed subjects). I have the same intensity and interest in the development and training of people. 

Photography is probably more creative than any of the left brain subjects I facilitated, but the personal responsibility, research, preparation, support and ultimately the privilege is the same (for me).

Hybrid Mode: CFD Trading on the JSE
What I did retain form my more analytical 'left brain days' is my Contract for Difference (CFD) trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). This is an effective way of keeping my mind sharp and it provides for my only 'set' daily schedule - the JSE is open Monday to Friday between 09:00 - 17:00. I live every week day with these 'office hours' in the back of my mind. Even if I don't trade and walk around Woodbridge Island or Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden doing my photography, I'm always aware of the JSE trading schedule. I trade only for myself therefore the research, decision-making and management of my own portfolio is a challenging 'strategy, application and risk management exercise' for stimulating the left brain.

© Vernon Chalmers

01 February 2021

Origin of Personal Responsibility and Decision-Making

Origin of Personal Responsibility and Decision-Making
Personal responsibility takes rejecting the pain and hurt we learned as children and deciding to create a new legacy of success, kindness, and love.”
― Charles F Glassman

My response to a Facebook Statement of Relationship between Choices and Origin (of Responsibility and Decision-Making)

Our past - especially our development as a child, will have an impact on our emotional development / decision-making (or the lack thereof). Someone with a diagnosed personality disorder i.e. Borderline Personality Disorder / or any other (mood) disorder on the Cluster B Personality Disorder spectrum - as per DSM-5™  criteria and diagnosis (Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder will be impacted on choices he / or she will make especially in relation to other people (in close and or family relationships) - due to unresolved childhood trauma / neglect.

Therefore, an underdeveloped sense of self could lead to (severe) impaired emotions and decision-making. People with Cluster B Disorders generally lack emotional intelligence, have an incoherent sense of identity, low level of empathy towards others and could succumb to irrational personal relationship decision-making (due to these identity deficiencies - as a distorted reference to sense of self).

Even people with addictions (as a choice / decision - that could impact decisions in close relationships with other people) could be traced back to childhood psychological, sexual and verbal abuse, trauma and / or neglect. Parents / care givers play a vital role in the emotional development of the child - if there was i.e. love, care, gratitude, respect and peace in the family environment the child (and adult later) should have a more coherent and healthy approach in his / her future relationships (and mindful emotional state / decision-making) - in the absence of love, care, gratitude and peace, the child (and later adult) could be severely impaired with regard to i.e. no empathy towards others, ingratitude, poor decision-making, lack of remorse and diminished sense of self.

It does not mean someone with impaired decision-making should be excused - it means that the 'healthy' individual in relation to them should be mindful that there are indeed real reasons why impaired decision-makers make their 'as is" decisions without a rational conscience, responsibility and or lack of gratitude / remorse. You may find these individuals make decisions out of anger, lack of confidence and identity deficiency (or poor self worth).

© Vernon Chalmers

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