Hello! Thank you for reading week 32 of the 365 Day People Picture Project. It's been another week of both laughter and tears, and meeting strangers who became friends.
If this is the first time you've stopped by, I'm taking a picture of a person every day for a year and sharing that process here. Each picture is taken fresh daily. If you'd like to follow along, I post each picture daily to Instagram. My username is @missellanea and the project is tagged #365daypeoplepictureproject.
I got a new DSLR camera which sat for a few days because I was afraid to use it. Then one day, I just picked it up and started taking pictures. In attempt to learn photography, I challenged myself to take a picture of a person every day for a year. I still don't know how to use the camera properly but I study a little each day and keep trying to learn as I go. I was mistaken when I said this would be a photography project. It has evolved into so much more, to the point where I can hardly even call it a photography challenge. The focus has become the people who have opened themselves up and shared their lives with me. With us.
Day 218 - Dalin (left) and Mark (right)
Dalin and Mark had just been to the Vancouver Farmers Market and were hanging out in the park, enjoying the day.
I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and Dalin said, "I'm getting to travel a lot." Mark said, "my new job!"
When I ask people if they've performed an act of kindness, they sometimes respond that they haven't done anything and it's usually followed by a look of disappointment. Sometimes, it's like I can almost see them adding "perform an act of kindness," to their mental to-do list. I'm sure everyone who has responded in this way, simply hasn't assigned any kindness-point value to the little things we do for our family and friends. I'm interested in the kind things people do for one another, whether the acts are for random strangers, or the daily gestures we perform for people close to us.
Dalin's recent act of kindness is that he made breakfast for his roommate. Mark's recent act of kindness is that he did his Sister's laundry! I'm sure Dalin's roommate and Mark's sister would definitely score them highly in the acts-of-kindness category!
I asked Dalin and Mark if they had a personal mission statement or if they could think of something on the spot. Dalin answered immediately, but he couldn't think of the quote word-for-word. His personal mission statement is borrowed from the movie, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and it is the motto for Life Magazine. I researched the actual quote: “To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed,”
Mark decided on: "to be the best that you can be." Dalin joked that Mark was using the Army's motto and we laughed when we pointed out the obvious difference in Mark's mission statement: "to be the best that you can be," versus the Army slogan: "be all that you can be."
Day 219 - Nomar
I met Nomar at Mt. Tabor Park.
"Grandkids and springtime," Nomar replied when I asked about the happiest things happening in his life right now. I asked Nomar if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he replied, "all the time." One act of kindness that he and his wife love to perform is to watch their grandkids for their children.
I asked Nomar if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one, and he replied, "to be a good citizen."
I ran into Nomar again the next day and we watched a man create giant bubbles, on the top of Mt. Tabor Park, using a homemade bubble recipe and and a simple handheld bubble-maker. Nomar said he does this for his grandchildren! The kids in the park were having a nice enough time watching the giant bubbles but it was the adults who were completely mesmerized! (Check out the video below.)
Day 220 - Dee (left) and Trae (right)
This is Dee and Trae. They had just finished their stair work-out at Tabor when we met. Trae was starting to get noodle-legs when we were talking. I confess, I spent more time watching the Bubble Man than I spent working out that day, so I wasn't feeling as noodle-y as these ladies.
I asked about the happiest things happening in their lives and Dee replied, "being alive!" Trae's response, "ditto!"
I asked if they've performed a recent act of kindness and Dee said that she serves at her church and she babysits. Trae said she couldn't think of anything but knowing how brutal the stairs can be, by that time, she was thinking mainly of her tired legs.
When I asked if they have a personal mission statement or if they could think of one, Dee replied, "live life to the fullest."
Here's a short video of the Bubble Man on the top of Mt. Tabor. (and the reason my legs were nowhere near as noodle-y as they should have been.)
Day 221 - Courtney
This is Courtney. It was amazing watching her little light turn on when she was in front of the camera! I didn't have to search for her sparkle, she's like glitter!
I asked Courtney about the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "I'm dating a new guy."
Courtney's act of kindness is that she's raising money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. There's a fundraising event at Mi Famiglia, in Oregon City, on May 6th.
When I asked Courtney if she had a personal mission statement, or if she could think of one, she replied, "be yourself and live life to the fullest."
Day 222 - Carlos Danger
Oh Carlos...what a character.
I had spotted a couple people standing outside of Sam's Billiards and beelined toward them for a block and a half so that I could reach them before they finished their smoke break. I had tunnel vision and was heading straight for them. I was so focused on those two people that I nearly missed Carlos as we passed each other in the crosswalk. I don't know what prompted me to stop to ask Carlos if I could take his picture because I was only a few footsteps away from the intended targets, but I'm so glad I did. I'm still laughing about our interaction.
Carlos agreed to let me take his picture before I had even finished giving my spiel. Within a matter of seconds, he was making ridiculous faces at me. I'm not talking the obvious funny face, but subtle facial contortions that resulted in pictures which look like the most awful photographic timing ever. I confess, the majority of the first pictures from this project look just like this, but it was an accident. Luckily, I would always end up with at least one usable picture. I couldn't even believe what was happening! We were complete strangers but within moments, his guard was down, he abandoned composure, and we were having fun. Well, perhaps Carlos is the type of person who doesn't have a guard...but whatever, I was having fun and I'm still laughing. (I wonder how many family pictures Carlos has contaminated with his sneaky prolonged blink and his exaggerated mid-speech "pose.")
I asked Carlos the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my family is visiting." Carlos' recent act of kindness is that he made breakfast for his wife and gave her a ride to work.
Carlos thought for a while when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or could think of one on the spot. I could tell that he knew what he wanted to say, but he was in the process of assembling his words mentally. He decided on, "exploring the world and creating good things."
I asked Carlos what he creates. He explained that he's a writer. By profession, he writes code, but his passion is writing. He wants his legacy to be his writing. I was hoping he had a blog so that we could read his writings but when I asked if he had anything he could share, he rolled up his sleeves to reveal that he was wearing two braces for severe tendonitis. He said that his work is boxed up and in his closet. His personal writing has been back-burnered in order to continue working professionally, but he's optimistic he will heal and be able to write again soon.
After we were finished with our "interview," Carlos asked me if I would consider being on T.V. Uttt-oh, who is this Carlos and why is he asking me this, I was thinking. He explained that his friends have a cable access program and this project fits with the type of interviews they do. I didn't completely decline, but the thought of giving an interview is completely intimidating and terrifying to me. My close friends think the reason I started this project is so that I never have to be in front of the camera, and yes, as challenging as it has been, I prefer the position of being behind the camera. I told Carlos I was afraid that I wouldn't have anything important to say, but I would consider it. I told my friend about the opportunity and how awfully intimidating it sounded but my friend shut me down. He fed it to me straight, saying, "you sort of owe it to these people." He's right. By time this project is finished, 365 people will have opened themselves up and shared a glimpse of their lives with me, with us, and if the time comes when I need to do the same, then I need to set aside my personal discomfort and hesitation and just go for it.
As we were saying goodbye, Carlos basically insisted that I "use the good pictures," meaning, the silly ones. I absolutely do not want to use these but Carlos made his expectations pretty clear.
Day 223 - Shayna (left) and Trisha (right)
These beautiful ladies are Shayna and Trisha. I didn't know when I asked if I could take their picture, that they were also going to leave a permanent impression in my heart. Within seconds, I wished this were a video project because I knew I would be unable to convey the love and wisdom they were sharing. They are truly beautiful.
The happiest thing happening in their lives right now: For Shayna, "every moment that I'm with my wife because I don't know how much time is left." For Trisha, "my daughter and my wife. I live for them every day."
Trisha was recently diagnosed with cancer. Trisha and Shayna are preparing to go to battle and they've armed themselves with love, hope and optimism. You can feel the undercurrent of fear and uncertainty, but every time the undercurrent makes itself known, Trisha and Shayna grip tightly to their flotation device made of love, strength, and optimism and it keeps them from being pulled under and drowning in fear.
They told me of their marriage, their love, their daughter and their new little niece. To hear them talk, they would seem to be the happiest people in the world. Ironically, it is their preparation to battle cancer which has given them perspective on their lives and their happiness, and it has reminded them not take even one moment for granted.
Trisha was in a pretty serious accident at work. She's still recovering from the accident and walks with a cane. They've managed to find a silver lining even in the horrible accident. It was Trisha's accident which led to the discovery of cancer. Were it not for the accident, who knows how much time would have passed, or had been lost, before being diagnosed. The cancer was caught in time to be treatable, but even though they're optimistic, they're realistic and aware there are no guarantees. Quietly woven into all of the words of optimism and strength, Trisha said in a voice just barely louder than a whisper, that she has her life in order and it gives her some peace knowing that things will be taken care of.
I was tempted to skip the "acts of kindness" question because it felt so inappropriate to ask someone who is battling for her life, if she's performed an act of kindness for another. My gut told me it was ok to ask these two women. Shayna and Trisha told me that they had recently given a homeless woman $2, and upon realizing the woman was going to use the money to buy food for her dog, they proceeded to go to Red Robin and buy her dinner. When they returned to the woman, dinner in hand, they dug some more and ended up giving her every cent they had. (over $20.) My heart was both broken and filled to learn that these two who are dealing with a serious life altering, potentially life-ending crisis, managed to give absolutely every cent they had on them in order to help another human being who was fighting her own battle of where her next meal would come from. Shayna and Trisha are love.
I asked the women if they had a personal mission statement or could think of something on the spot. Again, it felt inappropriate to ask because they had already shared so much wisdom and strength, of which I can't even articulate and share with you. They were both prepared with quotes which they've adopted as their personal mission statements. Shayna replied, "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle."
Trisha told me that she had actually just had her statement tattooed on her body! She replied, "don't let your scars define who you are."
Trisha's Grandma, who is also battling cancer, got the same ribbon-heart tattoo. They said a tattoo is something their Grandmother would have never done, but she did so in solidarity. They said that Grandma fell asleep during her tattoo! I laughed and said Grandma must be one tough bird!
Shayna and Trisha are scared, but strong. They have a lot of love and a strong support system and they're going to live each moment to the fullest.
As I was "developing" the picture to share with you, I experimented with some softening and knew immediately that it was all wrong. These are women who don't need blurred or softening. These are two women who are most beautiful when you see every detail with 100% sharpened clarity. Every piercing, puncture, tattoo, scar, smile, freckle, and tear, is beautiful. They don't need retouching or softening on the outside because they are beautiful on the inside and nothing could make them any more beautiful than they already are.
Day 225 - Brett and Bree
Brett and Bree are runners who I met at the head of my favorite trail.
The happiest thing happening in their lives right now is that they're changing their way of life by eating healthy, diet and nutrition, and working out. They're also in the process of becoming official members of their church.
I asked if they had recently performed an act of kindness and Bree said that she had recently baked a huge batch of 60 brownies to take to her church which feeds homeless people once a week. After realizing the church feeds over a hundred homeless people a week, she's going to continue baking even more so that she can contribute to the effort to feed people. Bree said she felt funny talking about acts of kindness she's performed, sort of like it's not really right to tell people about them. I agreed and said that's kind of how I felt, or what I learned as well, but then I changed my mind and I'm hoping that by sharing other people's acts of kindness, maybe more people will be inspired to perform their own acts of kindness. I think Bree felt ok with my explanation and justification that it's ok for us to tell others about our acts of kindness if our intentions are to help inspire others to do the same.
I asked Brett and Bree if they had a personal mission statement or if they could think of one on the spot. Bree said they have actually been discussing a family mission statement but they hadn't quite yet solidified one, but their working mission statement is: "to put God first in everything you do and all the decisions you make."
Once again, the subjects from this week have left us with some pretty powerful personal mission statements:
- “To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.”
- "To be the best that you can be."
- "To be a good citizen."
- "Live life to the fullest."
- "Be yourself and live life to the fullest."
- "Exploring the world and creating good things."
- "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle."
- "Don't let your scars define who you are."
- "To put God first in everything you do and all the decisions you make."
If you've been a subject this project, thank you. Thank you for making this happen. I may have to refer back to my journal to remember each person's name, but I will never, ever, forget you. Shayna and Trisha, wishing you the best of luck and success and praying for strength and healing.
Thank you for reading and for following along on this journey!
See you next week!