Geography of Now Online Course

GON Header Pink May2015
April 10th until May 19th, 2017

In this six-week online course, with daily lessons and exercises arriving in your inbox for 30 weekdays, you’ll have an opportunity to:

  • NOTICE the place where you live through a new kind of lens. (This is deep tissue noticing… not just noticing that you are out of milk.) Observe your neighbourhood and its people carefully and compassionately.
  • PHOTOGRAPH what you see with a simple point and shoot camera or with your phone. Click.
  • WRITE. Express how a particular image made you feel… or the memory it awakens like some ancient sleeping giant in your mind. Find your voice.
  • CREATE for the sake of creating something new and beautiful. There will be no worrying about whether your writing or photography is good enough. {That’s not what this course is about.}
  • FEEL GRATITUDE for the place you live and for the people in it.
  • BE BRAVE + VULNERABLE because it may have been a long time since you wrote something creative and you might feel frightened. You’ll need to summon your courage.


  • Six week-long modules
  • 30 daily lessons with examples and further readings
  • Daily creativity exercises in photography, writing, noticing and gratitude
  • Private and Secret Facebook Group
  • Encouragement, feedback and group discussions
  • PDF of all of the course content


  • Cost: 75 USD payable by PayPal. Please note that PayPal allows you to pay by credit card or debit card.
  • This course is a non-refundable investment in you as a creative person.


In my work as an International School Counselor, and my roles as a family member, friend, and a member of several online communities, people often tell me their wishes.

They wish for:

  • a sense of contentment and joy
  • a deeper feeling of connection to the people in their lives
  • the bravery to create things. They talk most frequently about photography and writing

Then they tell me the reasons why they can’t have those things. They explain that there isn’t enough time or money or energy at the end of a long day filled with work.

Those things are true, of course, but they are also excuses. Most of us are scared to put our creative work out into the world. We don’t want to feel vulnerable. Sometimes it may even feel dangerous to hope for a more fulfilling life because… what if it doesn’t happen?

This course is about moving towards the life that you want one small step at a time… one photograph, one poem, one moment of gratitude at a time. We start from the assumption that we already have everything we need to live a good life. Exactly where we are. That is the Geography of Now.

I created this course to help people carve some time out of their regular life for photography, writing, noticing and gratitude. My wish was twofold: to create a rich and varied course that would inspire participants, and to provide a safe space where people could share their photos, writing and observations.

This course is a love letter to the life you deserve.

Monna xo


What if instead of this… you believed this…
Life would be perfect if only…
{I had a better job… lived in a bigger house… or a different neighbourhood… or country.}
Life is not a getting but a becoming.
I am too busy doing Very Important Things to slow down, to notice, to make time for myself. When I don’t look after myself, everything else falls apart.
Other people are creative… but not me. The only limit to my creativity is me. Rock on!


“Geography of Now has been such a gift to me. Monna makes everyone feel welcome and safe, which was important to me as I dove back into writing (it had been a while) and started taking photos (it had been never). So many creative writing courses are about what’s wrong and fixing that; GON is about what’s right and growing that. I recommend anyone to this course who wants to reawaken their creativity and reinforce the knowledge that they are enough.”
~ Katy Jean Vance, Yokohama Japan

“I really appreciated the opportunities for self-reflection and the gentle lead-in to the writing exercises. I thought the layout of the course, the content, the emails with photographs and engaging instructions were very thoughtfully laid out. I loved how some days the “work” was super simple and some days you needed to dig deeper for it. I loved Monna’s daily emails, the photographs she included, the choices she provided and especially her gentle wording which made it clear there was never any pressure to post in the FB group. I also loved the supportive community that was created in the Facebook group! Monna did an absolutely beautiful job designing and executing this course! Congrats Monna!”
~ Ashley Shaw, Ottawa Canada

“The Geography of Now came at the perfect time in my life. We’re all always busy (too busy!), of course, but for me, this period seemed to have more crises than usual. What grounded me? This class, these opportunities to write and think and photograph and be in the present, my classmates. It is, by far, the most supportive group I’ve ever been in. No matter where we are in the world (and our class is far-flung), when you post your work, your thoughts, and your photos, love comes in.
Monna’s gentle guidance, kindness, and thoughtfulness is a true gift. She’s an educator that leads by example as well as with love. Truly, despite my crazy life this month, it has been one of the best for me. The opportunities to think deeply don’t come often enough, nor do we take the time to reflect on where we are in our lives – and really SEE. This is a gift beyond compare, and one I treasure. Highly (highly!) recommended.”
~ Dr. Jessica Voigts, Publisher, Wandering Educators, Journey to Scotland. Michigan, USA.

“I just want to say that I read Day Five for Geography of Now after a really crappy day and it warmed a smile on my face. I’m really happy I signed up for your course. I read it and I remember that past the clutter of my Stickies To Do List, there is fried food, warm grass, and the smell of water in this world. I just want to thank you for being so awesome and running a course like Geography of Now. Thank you, Ms. McDiarmid! You rock.”
~ Jun Sekiya, New York City


Week 1: Knowing yourself
We’ll use a number of different surveys and tests in order to develop a greater awareness of our own strengths and preferences. This week ends with a little celebration.

Week 2: Noticing
This week is about deep tissue noticing through the lens of our cameras. We’ll take our first photography walk and begin sharing our photography on the Facebook group. Smartphone cameras are perfect; Fancy phones need not apply.

Week 3: Photography
The whole world is our subject this week as our photography is guided by five photography prompts.

Week 4: Writing
In Week 4, we’ll use a number of writing prompts to catapult ourselves into a lovely writing place. We banish our editors for a little while while we gain confidence.

Week 5: Gratitude + Skinny Prose
During this week, we develop a deeper awareness of our blessings and begin writing skinny prose (also known as poetry). We invite our editors back to the party.

Week 6: Being at home where you are
In the final week of the course, we pull together all of the threads of the course through photography, writing and a culminating creative project.


“The Geography of Now course offers a daily dose of beauty and insight. The assignments are thoughtful and creative, with a little something for each participant’s inner poet and photographer. My favorite aspect of the course was that it gently encouraged me to get outside the box of my desk and computer monitor and to really look for beauty – in my prose, in my house, in my life, and in the people I love. Monna is an insightful teacher who gathers lovely people around her and encourages them to share. I highly recommend the class for anyone who is looking to jumpstart their creativity or just to explore their inner landscape.”
~ Mara Gorman, freelance writer and publisher The Mother of all Trips, Delaware

“I loved the writing prompt about my mother, the noticing assignment, the wabi-sabi assignment, the Gratitude assignment and the photography walks with a focus. And again, just beginning again to practice writing/taking pictures on a regular basis. I’m excited to continue working on gratitude and appreciation of small moments – I do this when I have time, but during the workweek, I need the reminders! Thank you so much Monna for your wisdom, guidance, creativity, and for sharing your own work with us. You know I am a BIG fan!”
~ Kathy Manu, Brussels Belgium

“In the Geography of Now I learned to write skinny poetry, which I love, and to appreciate taking pictures of my neighborhood. I especially enjoyed taking pictures – it taught me to look closer and to appreciate my surroundings. And I was forced to think and analyze, which I don’t normally enjoy but I know it’s good for me so it was good to have a push into that. I loved hearing what others are doing. So interesting to see how someone else approaches the same exercise. Thank you so much for this course! I will continue to photograph my neighborhood on my noticing walks.”
~ Spike Niederhauser, Yokohama Japan

“The best thing about this course was having a reason to write and take pictures every day. I definitely started taking a greater variety of photos as a result of this course, which helped me increase my Instragram following. I’ve also done a lot more daily journaling. My favourite thing about the course was connecting with others and reading their work. The exercises to push me further. I loved the personal feedback from Monna.”
~ Terra Ash Bruxvoort, Iowa


How will I receive the course content?
You will receive a message in your inbox every weekday for six weeks. The message will include a lesson as well as a photography/noticing/writing/gratitude prompt or activity. You will also receive a message each Sunday providing an overview of the upcoming week.

How do I ensure the messages don’t go into my spam folder?
The Geography of Now eCourse is sent by me via Mad Mimi. If you have never received an email from me before, the message may end up in your Spam folder. You can resolve this by making me ( a contact in your email or by checking your spam folder. Thanks!

How much time will I need every day?
You’ll need about 20-30 minutes each weekday although you may choose to spend less time… or more. It’s completely up to you.

What will I need for the course?

  • Computer with internet (for accessing the course and downloading your photos)
  • Point and shoot camera or smartphone camera
  • Journal and pen (I like one small enough that I can carry it with me at all times)
  • Facebook account. Note: we will share some of our work with each other in a private Facebook group. This means that only people enrolled in the course will be able to see your photos, your writing or your comments.

How will I connect to the community?
Through our Secret and Private Facebook group.

What happens if I get behind?
We don’t really in behind at the Geography of Now. Some weeks are busier than others. Do your best but try not to think of this course as work. If you miss a few classes, don’t worry. Jump back in whenever you can. You are always encouraged to support the other participants by commenting on their writing and photographs.

Is it possible to buy this course as a gift for someone else?
Absolutely! What a terrific idea! Please go ahead and purchase the course and then email me at to let me know who you’d like me to send the course to.

Can I get a refund on this course?
No. This is a non-refundable investment in yourself, your photography and your writing.