Hello! I'm sorry I've been behind. Don't worry, I've continued to take a picture of a person every day. I just managed to get a little behind with the blog post.
This is week 43, of The 365 Day People Picture Project. This is actually a review of the subjects from two weeks ago.
I knew when I started this project that there would be one week during the Portland Rose Festival which could possibly break me because it coincides with our peak season at my job. I was spread a little too thin. I also squeezed in a quick road trip back home. I'm happy to report that the peak week (actually, more like 2 - 3 weeks) didn't break me or the project- I continued taking pictures, but it did set me back with sharing them with you. Remember, if you'd like to follow along with the daily picture, you can follow me on Instagram. My username is @missellanea. Thank you for hanging in there with me!
Day 295 - My Mom
This is my Mom and I love her with all my heart. Sometimes, my head and heart feel like they could burst from the love I have for my Mom. I don't make the nearly 300 mile drive home anywhere close to as much as I would like to, or need to. Because I don't make the trip home as often as I should, when I do, it's both happy and deeply sad for me. I realize how much I'm missing.
Before starting this project, I daydreamed about a fantasy roster of potential subjects for this project. For the most part, my dream list was not grounded in reality. At all. Oh yes, I considered several celebrities, business people, authors, and even a few politicians. When I really allowed myself to consider all actual and fantasy possibilities, I decided that the #1 person on the top of my dream roster of subjects was - my Mom! Yes, she won over Ryan Gosling, Ashton Kutcher and Meryl Streep. Second on my dream list (because of course, my husband was a given), is Ben Nichols, of Lucero.
Between the two of us, I don't know who makes for the more challenging subject. I now understand where I get my aversion to having my picture taken. I think I'm actually a much worse subject than my Mom. She was sort of ok with having her picture taken, but she had all sorts of rules. The biggest, and funniest, rule - was that we couldn't take her picture where anyone could see us taking pictures. This quirk of hers helped me to understand why when I started this project, one of the most awkward feelings I had to work through, aside from approaching strangers, was having to overcome that weird issue and fear I had of other people seeing me taking pictures. (I've since learned, apparently, this is pretty common with photographers and they must overcome the fear that people are watching and judging them when they shoot.)
When I asked my mom the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she replied, "my daughter is home visiting me." I knew this would be her answer. Again, I was both happy and sad. For having such an amazing mom, I really need to be a better daughter and make the drive home more often. My visit home was also the happiest thing happening in my life.
I asked my mom if she had performed a recent act of kindness and she replied, "I take my friends and neighbors around to do their errands, go shopping, and pay bills." It struck me, my mom's entire life has been an act of kindness. I know there were times when I was a kid when she gave away her last few dollars to someone who needed it a little more than we did. In her business, she's been reluctant to raise prices and I know it was also out of an act of kindness. Even when the rest of the country wasn't suffering an economic crisis, the town where I'm from has always been economically depressed. I can remember her explaining to me one time that she knew she needed to charge more, but she had trouble doing so because she wanted to keep prices low and affordable for her clients and the women who leased a station in the shop. I can also remember many Sunday mornings when we had a house full of people and my mom cooked and fed us all. My mom is a good mom, but she's just a really good person too. I'm nowhere close to being as kind and as she is, but I will continue to try. Perhaps my mom's biggest act of kindness - is that she lovingly put up with me and my dad.
I asked my mom if she had a personal mission statement, or if she could think of one on the spot. She didn't know if it was a personal mission statement, but she decided on, "God created us in his image and I don't want to disappoint God." She then went on to give me a few guiding principles in sticking to this - "Actions speak louder than words." "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." "Judge not, lest ye be judged."
I asked my mom one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success. She replied, "working, my job." My mom has been a hair stylist for 57 years and counting. Her work ethic is absolutely incredible. I don't remember my mom ever calling in sick to work when I was growing up. There was that one time when she dropped a couch on her foot, and if I remember correctly, she had broken a toe or even her foot - but even then, I don't think she missed a full day of work. I'm sure she has now that she's older, but she's the type of woman that when there's work to be done - she just does it. It doesn't hurt that she absolutely loves her work and her clients. Her clients have become her friends and extended family. Until just this past week, she's owned her own shop for many of those years. She unknowingly taught me that if there's something we want in life, we can simply go out and get it. It doesn't matter how the odds may be stacked against us, and it doesn't matter if we lack the resources. We can make things happen for ourselves if we try. It may not be ideal, it may not be the way we dream or envision things for ourselves, it may be far from perfect or fancy - but we can attain a variation of our dreams if we simply set out to do so.
I think part of the reason I got behind these past two weeks, in addition to simply being spread entirely too thin and downright exhausted, is that I knew I would never be able to adequately express my love and adoration for my mom. This was going to be a challenging post to write. For someone who dreams of becoming a writer - I'm completely at a loss for finding words sufficient enough to convey my love and emotion. I love my Mom. It's overwhelming. Mom, thank you for being such a good mother and woman. I can never measure up to the kind of person you are, but if there are moments in my life when I can live with even a fraction of your kindness and spirit, then I know those moments are good ones. I love you.
Day 296 - Adam
This is Adam. He was on his bike and just hanging out at the bottom of Mt. Tabor Park when I met him. I didn't know when I approached him, but he was waiting for his family who was to meet him there.
I asked Adam the happiest thing happening in his life right now and and he explained that they had just sold their house and are moving back to the East Coast. You'll never guess how they're going to get there?! PEDDLE POWER! Yes, that's right - he and his wife and son are going to ride their bikes all the way back to New Hampshire. Several legs of their journey will actually be made by train because Adam's son is currently enamored by them. They anticipate it will be about a 3 month journey back home.
I asked Adam if he had recently performed an act of kindness, and I felt like I was giving him a pop quiz to name the presidents. I could see him searching his memory and then it was though he felt bad when he couldn't produce a specific act of kindness. He finally just said, "I try to be nice." Just in the few moments we had been talking, I'm certain he must do at least a half dozen kind acts a day. He's just a nice guy.
When I asked Adam if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he considered the question for a while. Again, I could tell he was getting nervous and a little stressed because he couldn't think of something and he said that he wished his English Teacher wife would arrive so she could help him out. We laughed. When I rephrased the question to ask about his life's purpose, he replied, "I want to be the best Dad I can be, and I want to make nice furniture." Adam is a wood worker and furniture maker. His website, Gloaming Hour Designs, isn't completely finished but you can check out his website to see a sneak peek of his amazing work. Did you see that dresser? It is the most beautiful dresser I've ever seen in my entire life. (Someday, remind me to tell you about my second favorite dresser.)
We only had one last question when Adam's wife and son peddled up on their bike. Adam gestured over to his wife and gave a quick shout out explanation as to why he was being "interviewed." I asked Adam one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "I think I'm a quality person when it comes down to it. I work at it. I'm an alright dude."
Adam went on to explain that he didn't always feel this way. He's made a conscious decision and made effort to be honest and have compassion for people. Adam's honest assessment and answer was inspiring. Adam's response confirms that we can choose to be the kind of person we aspire and desire to be. If we want to be a good and kind person, we can choose to be one. It doesn't mean we're going to become a saint overnight. We can continue to make progress, even imperfect progress, if we set our sights on becoming a better person. It doesn't mean we're going to be kind, patient, and compassionate every waking moment of our lives - but we can strive toward it. We are human. We will lose our patience or our temper. We will be, at times, less kind that we could have been. We, at times, will forget to view people or a situation with compassion and empathy. We, at times, may "flip the bird" to an inconsiderate driver. We, at times, may be a little abrasive with a customer service person who is simply trying to do their jobs. But, if we make the conscious decision to be a quality person, and then give it effort to be one, we will improve. Someday, we'll be able to say, "I'm an alright dude."
Adam introduced me to his wife when we were finished and I was able to visit with them a little while longer. Adam's wife, in her own act of kindness, offered me a chocolate treat she had just picked up from Whole Foods. I wanted to decline because my hands were filthy from just having done push-ups, but I'm so glad she pretty much insisted. I don't know what she gave me, but it was the most unique and amazing chocolate experience I've ever had. (I learned that I've been doing chocolate wrong.) I'm now going to have to try everything at Whole Foods that even slightly resembles the treat she had given me.
Wishing Adam and his family a safe and fun journey back to the East Coast! They're a kind couple and this is going to be about he most amazing journey for their little son. They will make memories that will last his entire lifetime, and shape the rest of his life.
Day 297 - Billy Bob
This is Billy Bob. Were it not for one small thing, you could have been looking at the very best picture I had taken in all 297 days. But, I blew it. Again. I couldn't even share that picture with you. I met Billy Bob outside of the Hollywood Theater, and you probably remember me saying that basically this whole area has been my nemesis. No matter what side of the street I'm on, I really, really struggle with getting a good shot there. It's caused me to be determined to get a good shot - and I almost had it with Billy Bob.
I was well aware of the challenges I was facing with the direct sun and the time of day, so I approached things using my head. I was aware of the sun, where it was in the sky, and how it would affect the picture. I took a few pictures, then moved a little to the left, a little to the right, up a little higher, then down a little lower. I took pictures with and without his glasses, and then finally - I know we were making a great picture. It was the last picture I had taken and I knew we had nailed it.
When I got home to "develop" the pictures, I discovered a huge problem on the picture I thought was going to be "the picture" - LENS FLARE!!! Sometimes, a little lens flare is actually kind of cool and there are even aps that add in lens flare - but in this case, it was just wrong, wrong, wrong. The lens flare was a big spot on Billy Bob's head and it ruined the otherwise beautiful picture. (The sun was perfectly glowing and Billy Bob was perfectly lit, and he had the most perfect, confident, yet pleasant, look on his face.) It was one of my best pictures so far and I had really worked at trying to get that shot. I spent close to 2 hours trying to figure out how to edit out the lens flare spot. I just don't know enough about lightroom, in spite of the crash course of youtube videos I had watched in the attempt to learn how to edit it out, and then clone a patch of his hair to fill in the spot once I removed it. I finally just had to give up.
Another lesson learned the hard way. I've been really good at not picking up the habit of "chimping," but in this case, it hurt me. "Chimping" is what photographers call the habit of checking each picture you take. The thought is, if you obsess over each picture you take and are constantly checking your LCD screen, then you're going to miss thousands of beautiful photographic opportunities which are right before your eyes. (Because your eyes were buried in your LCD review screen.) It was a heartbreak and even if I had checked the LCD to make sure it was a good shot, there's nothing to say that we could have perfectly reconstructed that shot again. Just as in life, the moment the opportunity has passed, we will never have that same exact opportunity again. The flipside, is that perhaps had I realized the lens flare problem was there, we could have somehow managed an even better shot. Or, maybe not. Maybe even being off by a few inches, would have resulted in a completely different look. Regardless, I learned that it's in there. I have it in me - I just have a lot to learn.
I asked Billy Bob about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "I just started a new job."
Billy Bob's recent act of kindness is that he gave a Street Roots vendor $10. Street Roots is a program here in Portland where homeless people who sell the Street Roots newspaper, are able to keep the profit from their sales.
"Enough is when there is no more," was Billy Bob's response, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.
I asked Billy Bob one thing about himself that he would consider to be a success and he replied, "my interpersonal skills."
Day 298 - Wynn
This is Wynn. He was sitting outside on a patio table, enjoying a beer, when I pretty much just invited myself to sit down with him. Luckily, he agreed to let me sit down and take his picture.
I asked Wynn about the happiest thing happening in his life right now - and at that particular moment, he was actually feeling conflicted. He was feeling uncertain about what his future holds in that his job may be transferring him starting September 1st. Although he was feeling uncertain about the future, he said that he's happy that it's summer, we're having beautiful weather, and he was about to meet a friend for a movie.
When I asked Wynn if he's recently performed an act of kindness, he said that he tries to do an act of kindness every day. That morning, he had given his boyfriend cash so he would be able to tip the shuttle bus driver who would be taking him to the airport. Wynn then went on to explained that his job as a flight attendant gives him the opportunity to do kind things every day. Recently, a pregnant woman on his flight grabbed Wynn's attention and explained to him that she really needed to go throw up, even though the "fasten seatbelt" sign had already came on. Wynn told her it was ok, helped her to the bathroom, and while she was in the bathroom doing her thing, Wynn had placed a bottle of water on her seat, and if I remember, he even gave her a pillow and blanket too! Wynn was so thoughtful! The poor woman...Wynn did just the right thing to help bring her a little bit of comfort in probably an otherwise extremely miserable situation.
I asked Wynn if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot. He replied, "Don't ever let anything hold you back. Don't limit your life. Don't be afraid to take risks."
One thing about himself which Wynn considers to be a success is that he's "always going on new adventures."
Day 299 - Jake
"I'm getting married, Jake said, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Jake's response was pretty much the most unique answer to this question so far. When I asked if he had recently performed and act of kindness, he replied, "yeah, I helped a buddy clean a pig skull to mount on a wall."
When I asked Jake if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he explained that he didn't have one and wasn't necessarily on board with the idea of having one. So, I continued and rephrased the question to ask about his life's purpose. He replied, "I haven't figured that out yet." After a talking a little while longer, he shared this, "Do good, feel good. Do bad, feel badly."
I asked Jake one thing about himself he would consider to be a success, and again, he shared with a laugh, "I'm getting married!"
Day 300 - Evan
This is Evan. This was day 300!!!!
I met Evan down at Portland Waterfront Park. I got to be a tourist in one of my own cities for the weekend, as I stayed in a hotel in downtown Portland in order to be close to the event site where I would be working over the weekend.
I asked Evan about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he said, "I'm just about to have dinner with my Dad." His dad was in Portland, visiting from the East Coast.
When I asked Evan if he's recently performed and act of kindness, he said that he feels like he does so regularly, but currently, he was helping to mentor a friend who is in the process of opening his own business. Evan is only 28 years old, but has already owned 3 businesses.
"Try to have fun with whatever is put in front of you, " Evan said, is his personal mission statement.
When I asked Evan something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he said that he made the decision to be happy. He, like Adam from day 296, made the decision to be a nice person and he works at it. With enough effort, he explained, you can eventually con yourself into becoming a nice person.
Day 301 - Gary
This is Gary. I also met him downtown. Having to catch up on two weeks worth of posts, has me concerned that I may have lost information. Although I take notes in my journal, the notes are taken hastily and sometimes I can barely make out my own writing even when I sit down just minutes or hours later. Now that it's two weeks later, I fear I've lost a bit of our conversations.
So, I'm relying on my memory and my notes and hope I didn't confuse any of the subjects from this particular weekend. If you're Gary, Evan or Peter James and you happen to read this, my apologies if I'm forgetting something.
The happiest thing happening in Gary's life right now is that he's generally a happy person, and he had just gone for a wonderful run.
When I asked Gary if he had recently performed and act of kindness, he went on to explain that coincidentally, he had found himself in a position to be of assistance to disabled people, on several different occasions, who were having difficulties with accessibility issues. Basically, they were having trouble entering buildings because the doors were too heavy, or too small, or basically just difficult to enter when in a wheelchair because they weren't as accessible as they could have been. Gary was able to help them enter/exit the buildings.
"To help the world make it a better place," Gary said, is is personal mission statement. He wants to help people, to help make our world a better place.
One thing about himself which Gary would consider to be a success is, "I have a job that helps people."
Here's the summary of the wisdom found in the personal mission statements of the subjects from this week:
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
- Judge not, lest ye be judged.
- I want to be the best Dad I can be, and I want to make nice furniture.
- Enough is when there is no more.
- Don't ever let anything hold you back.
- Don't limit your life.
- Don't be afraid to take risks.
- Do good, feel good. Do bad, feel badly.
- Try to have fun with whatever is put in front of you.
- To help people to help make our world a better place.
Thank you for reading along and a sincere thanks to all of you who have been subjects in this project. It wouldn't exist without you and thank you for letting me take your picture.