Thank you for checking in on week 29 of The 365 Day People Picture Project! I've had something on my to-do list since attending The Blogcademy last spring. Actually, I have hundreds of things on my to-do list, but this is one thing that is extremely important and it's something that requires only time and consideration, so it's something I should have completed ages ago. The Blogcademy places huge importance on developing your own personal manifesto and personal mission statement and in doing so, you develop or define your own personal brand. This has been gnawing at me for months and then I came across this article on Fast Company, "Personal Mission Statements of 5 Famous CEOS (and why you should write one too)"
Prior to reading this, I had reached a complete block in trying to come up with a concise explanation of the person I want to strive to become. By the time I finished reading the article, I had defined my own personal mission statement. What had caused me months of stress, was completed in a matter of moments, simply because I read the personal mission statement of others. Upon reading the article, my personal mission statement came to me in one effortless flash.
I was inspired by the article to find out if other people have already developed their own personal mission statement, and if they don't already have one, could they fumble through the process and think of something on the spot? I'm excited to learn about the personal mission statements of famous CEO's, but even more exited to hear about the personal mission statements of the random people we encounter in a day! I introduced this new question mid-week and I'm taken aback by the answers. Of the 4 people I asked, no one was prepared with a canned response, but everyone genuinely made an effort to come up with an answer. I imagine that after our interaction, it's possible they then went on to expand, or refine, the answers they had given. I was amazed and impressed with how each person was able to come up with a personal mission statement (or mantra) in a matter of minutes, or at least a very good working start to one.
Day 197 - T.J. and Cameo
T.J. and I were both in tears and hugging within about 5 minutes of meeting each other.
I met T.J. and Cameo at the park at my favorite trail. I approached her to ask if I could take her picture and she agreed. We finished the pictures and when I asked T.J. about the happiest thing happening in her life right now, I could see that she was holding back tears. When someone is feeling strong emotions, I get emotional too, even if I don't know why. There we stood, two complete strangers, sharing a connection and both struggling to fight back our tears.
T.J.'s tears were actually happy tears. She felt it was a sign that God is looking out for her because I had approached her and asked her about the happiest thing happening in her life right now. The question forced her to realize that she does have happiness in her life, even though she's currently working through a painful loss. "I'm beginning to see the glimmer of my new life, and I'm finding out who I am," T.J. replied.
T.J. and I continued to visit for a while longer. She told me about her situation, and I just wanted to listen. We had been placed in each others lives at that particular moment, because it was something we both needed. T.J. was a dear and sweet woman and I won't share any more of our interaction, but I loved that as we were saying good-bye, she quoted one of my all-time favorite movies:
"...beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up, and it will." - Birdee Pruitt, Hope Floats
Day 198 - James
This is James, of the band, The Foolhardy.
We met at the Plaid Pantry convenience store. After he finished his purchase, I asked if I could take his picture for the project and he agreed.
"Making music," is the happiest thing happening in James' life right now.
I asked James if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he said that he had arranged a benefit concert to raise money for a friend who is sick.
Day 199 - Toni
Toni's awesome style caught my attention from all the way down the street! If I were better skilled, I would have taken a picture to show you the fabulous leopard print tights she was wearing with her skirt!
I asked Toni about the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "my passion for The Beatles."
Toni is a hair stylist at Escapade and one of her acts of kindness is that she gives free or discounted services to people who need it. She also gives money to homeless people on the street corners.
Day 200 - Glen
We're entering the busy season at work and I've been nervous knowing there are going to be some days which are going to be extremely difficult to find a subject. Wednesday was one of those days. I had to attend a meeting for one of the events for which the company where I work is the souvenir merchandise supplier. I felt a little ridiculous dragging a garment rack, which was stuffed full of apparel, through the sports bar and into the banquet room where the meeting was to be held. Glen instantly made me feel at ease when he offered to help by moving a few chairs out of my way and opening the heavy doors into the banquet room. He also wanted to know what the occasion was. After I set up for the meeting, I then went back out to take a picture for the project.
I was able to catch Glen right before he started his next game of pool. The happiest thing happening in Glen's life right now, is that he's in the process of opening a pool hall, West Coast Billiards.
When I asked Glen if he's performed an act of kindness, he looked to a friend to help him think of an example. According to his friend, Glen is pretty much one of the nicest guys you could meet. I could tell that from the moment I walked in the door! He stopped his game of pool just to come help me!
I introduced the new question to Glen. I asked if he had a personal mission statement, and if not, could he think of one on the spot. Glen didn't hesitate in coming up with his personal mission statement. He thought out loud for a moment, saying that he "wants to put others before himself," and then decided on his personal mission statement; "To be there for others."
Day 201 - Jason
This is Jason.
We met in the parking lot just as I had just parked my car to go in search of a subject. It was a lucky day since a great subject just happened to be parked right next to me!
My first impression of Jason was that he's outgoing, nice, happy, friendly and quite personable. He is all of those things, but after talking with Jason for a while, he shared that he can be on the introverted side, so it takes effort for him to stay connected with others. In just a few moments, I felt like I was catching up with an old friend instead of a complete stranger. I shared with him that I felt the same way - it's much easier for me to be alone and retreat to my own mind, than it is to be with others, even though I love other people. I admired Jason's understanding of himself. He realizes that he's an upbeat and happy person, and that he needs to stay connected with other people to share that with others. I was touched that two strangers, who both admittedly have to work to stay connected with other people, were able to make a connection in a parking lot and talk about our quirks with one another.
I asked Jason about the happiest thing happening in his life and he said he has a story telling performance on Monday! You can learn more about StorySlam at the Moth website. This sounds like something I would love to check out!
I asked Jason if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he was having trouble thinking of something recent, but instead, he told me about a fun little random act of randomness that he performs every few weeks. Jason collects little figurines and then plants a small collection of them in unexpected places around the city! Now, in addition to looking for subjects, I'm also going to be on the lookout for Jason's little planted figurines!
I asked Jason if he had a personal mission statement, and if not, could he try to think of one at that moment. I love that both Jason and Glen worked through their thoughts to come up with something on the spot! Jason decided on: "to be nicer than I normally am, so that others can be nicer than they normally are."
Good luck on your performance, Jason!
Day 202 - Nelson
I spotted Nelson from down the block and had to hurry to catch up to him. Actually, I spotted Nelson's shirt! It was perfect and whoever was wearing that shirt, needed to be in the project. His shirt was darker than lavender, but lighter than purple, and I knew that whoever was wearing that shirt, would most likely be inclined to let me take their picture. I was right!
One of my Instagram friends said that I seem to have a knack for finding people with pretty eyes. Since I'm often chasing a person down from behind, without any idea of what they look like, I've decided that Portland is just full of beautiful-eyed people!
Jason only had a moment to spare so we had to be quick. I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "watching my son grow up."
When I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he said that he had given $10 to a person selling "Street Roots" (Street Roots is a newspaper which is sold by homeless people. They keep a percentage of the $1 sale price.)
I also asked Nelson if he had a personal mission statement. He actually appreciated the exercise! His mission statement; "I believe in the power of people helping people."
Day 203 - Alisa
My friend Kacey and I had just finished 14 miles in the wind and the rain. At around 13 miles, I told her how badly I was hoping we could find a subject at the end of the trail, because my body was pretty much finished for the day! We reached the end of the trail and ran right into Alisa! (one of the few other people who were out in the rain and wind.)
Alisa is training for the Boston Marathon. She's running the McKenzie River Half Marathon on the 23rd of this month, and then next stop, BOSTON!
I asked Alisa the happiest thing happening in her life, and she said that she has lots of them. She has a cute little grandson and she's happy she and her family are healthy. (Alisa was on the mend from an injury and it's so challenging to simultaneously rest/heal an injury, and keep up with a different form of training. She managed to work through it and now she's feeling confident and well. She looks strong!)
I asked Alisa if she's performed a recent act of kindness and she told me about a fun little tradition she has. She likes to pay for the car behind her when she crosses the Bridge of the Gods toll bridge. She also recently invited a friend over for dinner, whose husband was out of town.
Alisa and I spent time talking about the parallels of running and life, and how training for marathons relates to life in general. The battles one faces in training and in an actual race, are like magnified and intensified versions of the struggles we face in life. I asked Alisa if she had a personal mission statement and she felt she has more of a mantra; "to be in the present."
In running, just as in life, she explained that you can't look too far ahead, and you certainly can't look too far behind in the past. You have to be focused on where you are at that moment. She explained that even if that moment is a trying, there comes a point when you reach homeostasis and you're able to work through that moment (or mile) and then you're onto the next. Alisa also explained that perspective is important to her. If a situation isn't ideal, she changes her perspective of the situation. I love this! We all know this, but for me, it has taken this project for me to fully grasp the concept. If I'm trying to take a picture and it's just not working out, sometimes all I have to do is change "perspective." I move a little to the left or to the right, or maybe try from a little higher or a little lower. If we can't actually change a situation, we can certainly re-frame things and change our perspective and reaction to it.
I love talking with Boston caliber runners! I'm *just* a walker but we share some of the same challenges, and we all share the same challenges in the Boston Marathon of life. Alisa's mantra is a strategy we can all use in our daily marathon of life - be in the present, and consider our perspective.
I'm feeling confident that Kenny (from last week) is going to qualify for Boston, and now we're going to have two people to cheer on in April!
Good luck, Alisa! We're rooting for you!
If you've been a subject in this project, thank you for sharing yourself with us and for letting me take your picture.
Thank you for reading! In case you're wondering, the personal mission statement that I've decided on: "I want to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things."
What about you? What's your personal mission statement?
Thank you again for sharing in this project! Have a great week!