Week 11 is a wrap! You'll notice I'm experiencing some growing pains. I'm sorry. I think it's all a part of the process. It's been a rainy and dark week in Portland, and I've had serious struggles. The ironic things is, were I not trying to improve, these pictures would be better. What? I know that doesn't make sense.
Today's DSLR cameras are so amazing and high tech, that a person who knows little about photography, can still take a perfectly decent picture on auto and using the kit lens that comes with the camera. Having purchased a high-performing prime lens, and my attempt to break out of auto, is actually resulting in lots of bad mistakes. It's been discouraging, but I keep reminding myself that each bad picture I take today, is a better picture I'll take tomorrow. It's not very comforting, but I refuse to give up. We have to remember that progress is not always forward-moving. Sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes, we even take several steps back. We just have to keep plugging away and eventually we'll break through the walls we find ourselves up against.
Day 70 - David
This is David. We met at Esther Short Park, in Vancouver.
I asked David the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he responded, "living here in Portland." "Well, here in the Portland/Vancouver area," David corrected. David recently moved here from Massachusetts. I love it when I happen to meet someone new to the area. We've had several newbies in the project and it's been awesome having the chance to unofficially/officially welcome a person to the Northwest.
I asked David if he's recently performed an act of kindness and David explained he tries to do something everyday. He's always helping someone out in one way or another, and he simply tries to be kind.
When I asked David if he has a personal mission statement, he answered that he lives by a set of personal core values - "living a life of honesty and mutual respect."
"My 16 year marriage," David answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Welcome, David & family!
Day 71 - Sarah
This is Sarah. I spotted her waiting at the bus stop. We had to hurry before the bus arrived.
The happiest thing happening in Sarah's life right now is the Choir that she directs.
I asked Sarah if she's recently performed an act of kindness, or if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Sarah said that her boyfriend had given her a ride to work that morning, much earlier than he's normally up and about.
I asked Sarah if she had a personal mission statement and I could practically see Sarah's mind racing in an attempt to nail down an answer. The question is a big one. For some reason, although it seems equally as intimidating to me, I've found that asking instead about a person's life's purpose somehow helps people to focus on an answer. Sarah easily answered that her life's purpose is "to try to help other people through music."
"That I've gotten better about asking for help," Sarah answered, when I asked something about herself which she would consider to be a success. This is such a huge life lesson to learn and I'm happy for Sarah that she's learned how to do so at a young age. I still need help with asking for help.
Day 72 - Matt
This is Matt. Matt had a bike and because the bus already had too many bikes on board, Matt was left behind to wait for the next one to come along, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to ask Matt if I could take his picture.
"I just got a new apartment," Matt answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked Matt if he's either performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he quickly answered, "my girlfriend does awesome stuff every day." Awwww.
I asked Matt if he has a personal mission statement or if he could define his life's purpose. Matt responded with:
1 - "Good enough is never good enough."
2 - "We never really die until the last time someone says our name, so I'd like my name to stick around."
"I'm a good cook," Matt answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Day 73 - Kelly
This is Kelly. We're co-workers. It was pouring outside when it came time to go out looking for a subject. I was concerned about protecting my camera, and then if I managed to find someone, I didn't want to inconvenience them by stopping them in the rain to ask for a picture and "interview." Kelly told me she's not photogenic, but understanding the rainy predicament I was in, she agreed to let me take her picture.
"Being at peace with all of my family and friends, being in a good place, and being happy all-together," Kelly answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.
When I asked Kelly if she's recently performed an act of kindness, she couldn't think of anything specific but answered, "I always try to be nice to people, and thoughtful." I immediately thought of all of the kindness Kelly gives to us each day at work. Kelly is a designer and working in the art department, their days are scheduled in advance. They know exactly what their objectives are for the day and thoughtful consideration goes into planning and scheduling their days so they have just enough time to complete their jobs for the day. A little bit of pressure can help some people to focus, but too much pressure can be a complete creativity-killer. Any new and unscheduled task, adds pressure to their day. Although the art department is scheduled, Kelly knows that new things pop up in sales all day long and we often need the guidance of the art department in order for us to do the next step in our jobs. Kelly always helps. She always finds, or makes, the time to help us and she does so with kindness.
I asked Kelly if she has a personal mission statement or a life's purpose. She gave the question consideration before answering, "to keep growing and keep learning new things, and to keep expanding myself in every way."
"I'm very introspective and good at analyzing situations," Kelly replied, when I asked her something about herself which she would consider to be a success. I just recently became aware of Kelly's amazing ability to assess a situation or person. It's awesome working with someone who has a complete understanding of a situation. In this instance, Kelly even offered a perspective I hadn't considered, which helped me to have a greater understanding and appreciation for the situation as well.
Thank you, Kelly!
Day 74 - The Great Brendini
This is The Great Brendini, a nickname she had just been given by a co-worker that same day. We met outside of Velo Cult.
I asked Brendini the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she answered, "predictability."
Brendini's recent act of kindness is that earlier in the grocery store, she had acknowledged a woman who society probably normally overlooks, ignores, or dismisses. Brendini gave the woman direct eye contact, accepting body language and a smile. A little bit of kindness goes a long way at the grocery store. The grocery store is a great place to practice kindness. I read an article which presented a challenge to smile, genuinely smile, at 3 people in the grocery store, every time you go shopping. If you try the 3-smile challenge, be sure to report back the results!
When I asked Brendini if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose, I could tell she was retreating to her mind to retrieve an answer. She said, "I'm a philosopher in my mind," but she was having a difficult time coming up with an answer. I completely understood Brendini and I cracked up at her "philosopher in my mind" comment. Brendini and I have this in common. I have beautiful thoughts and ideas, but in my mind is where they stay locked away, seeming to serve the purpose of entertaining only my own self. It's like I'm not able to give them life. When I attempt to birth the thoughts, things never come out of my mouth, or onto the keyboard, the way they've been stored in my mind.
Brendini worked through the temporary block and answered, "willing your own purpose through authenticity, and recognizing the inspiration in everything around you - is my purpose every day."
"My independence," Brendini answered, when I asked her something about herself which she would consider to be a success. I loved talking with Brendini. She told me all about her neighborhood adventures, which she often goes on alone. Having become a bit of a lone wolf myself, I loved hearing about another woman who enjoys venturing out alone and found familiar and comfortable irony in that predictability is currently giving happiness to Brendini's life, but it's balanced by an independent and adventurous spirit. I guess you could say we're predictably adventurous. Or adventurously predictable?
After we finished with the picture and interview, Brendini told me she was going to check out the tattoo shop next door, and then head back into Velo Cult for a lecture on neuroscience. (Who even knew that Velo Cult, a combination bike repair shop, pub, and event space, hosted lectures on neuroscience??? Neuroscience one day, then live music the next!!) Brendini is at expert level 10 when it comes to independence. I could learn a thing or two from her.
Day 75 - Ernest
This is Ernest. Ernest is the uncle of a woman I've known for about 25 years. She was married to one of our high school track coaches, and coincidentally, we ended up living in the same town, 250+ miles away from where we met. We bump into each other at the grocery store every so often, and we just happened to run into each other this night.
I loved visiting with Ernest and his niece, and I really wanted to come away with a particularly special picture of Ernest. When I arrived home to prepare the photo for Instagram, I was heartbroken by the mistakes I had made. I always want to do a good job, but given that Ernest is family to someone I've known for years, I wanted to be able to surprise her with a beautiful portrait the next time we bumped into each other at the grocery store. I failed. Ernest was such a nice man though. I have a feeling he's the kind of man who would tell me to stop beating myself up because I'm still just learning.
"Retirement," Ernest immediately answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked Ernest if he's recently either performed an act of kindness, or been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Ernest said he's been on the receiving end, in that someone recently gave him a job painting. Although Ernest is happily retired, he still likes to keep busy.
Ernest's life's purpose - "to be comfortable in life."
I asked Ernest something about himself which he considers to be a success. Ernest answered, "my old-school cars." Ernest has a few classic cars which he's collected, restored, and now maintains. It was obvious looking at Ernest, that he's a fit and active man. I commented to Ernest that he looked like he was ready to to go for a run. "Thank you," he said. I then learned that Ernest also runs almost every day!! He didn't mention his running as something he would consider to be a success, but I sure do!
Ernest, thank you for letting me take your picture and I hope to see you again some day!
Day 75 - A.J.
This is A.J.. He was parked next to me at Walgreens. Seeing that A.J. had just picked up an order of photo prints, I figured chances were in my favor that he would say yes if I asked to take his picture.
A.J. is tall. I mean, really tall. I had to stand up on the curb but he was still too tall for me. I had to ask him to squat down. I feel bad about asking tall people to do this. I know it feels awkward, but it results in a much better picture than shooting up a tall person's nose. A.J. laughed and explained he was fine with the request because he's had to squat in just about every picture anyone has ever taken of him.
"Going to Disneyland on Tuesday," A.J. answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
A.J.'s recent act of kindness is that he bought someone's drinks at a restaurant the other night.
"Rise above," A.J. answered, when I asked if he has a personal mission statement or a life's purpose.
When I asked A.J. something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "my family."
Here's the summary of the mission statements and life's purpose of the subjects from week 11:
- Living a life of honesty and mutual respect.
- To try to help other people through music.
- Good enough is never good enough.
- We never really die until the last time someone says our name, so I'd like my name to stick around.
- To keep growing and keep learning new things, and to keep expanding myself in every way.
- Willing your own purpose through authenticity.
- Recognizing the inspiration in everything around you.
- Rise above.
My sincere appreciation to all of the subjects in this project, and to you for following along. Thank you.
Wishing you a great week!