Hello! We're finished with week 12!
If you've been following along for a while, you know how much I admire and adore Peter Hurley. Not only is he an amazingly skilled portrait photographer, but his enthusiasm is inspiring and I've learned more from watching two of his videos, than I had learned from months of reading and studying online.
Although I'm just learning photography, one thing became instantly clear to me from the moment that I first picked up a camera. What became apparent to me, is that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. People are beautiful. Because I'm just learning, I'm not always able to capture a person's beauty the way I see it in my mind, but it's there. Everyone is beautiful in some way, if we just take a moment to see it.
If we can all accept that we're beautiful on the outside, then we can let our inside light shine too. Just as each person is beautiful on the outside and we can always see it if we look for it, each person is beautiful on the inside as well. The beauty will always reveal itself if we take the moment to look for it, and recognize it when we see it.
Peter and Anna, in this PsyPhotology video, share with us that as equally important as learning to see the beauty in others, is learning to see it in ourselves.
Day 77 - Mary
This is Mary. We met at Esther Short Park, in Vancouver.
Normally, I'm much more observant but it took me a moment to put 2 + 2 together. Mary was sitting on a bench and I noticed what I thought was a picnic blanket sitting on her lap. When I approached her to ask if I could take her picture, she agreed, and in doing so, looked off into the direction of a young man and a photographer. Then it all became apparent once I realized Mary wasn't holding a blanket, she was holding her son's letterman's jacket and it was her son who was having his senior portrait session at that very moment! We laughed at the timing of it! I think that because Mary's son was having his senior portrait session, helped make her more receptive to having her own picture taken.
I asked Mary the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she answered, "family and just everything is going well. The kids are home and doing well."
I asked Mary if she's recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she does little things daily, such as opening doors for people and letting cars in front of her in traffic.
"To raise kids with good morals and values, and to be happy," Mary answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose.
When I asked Mary something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she answered, "I have came from some dark places and I turned my life around." Mary shared with me a little of her story, but without going too deep, I just left Mary having been reminded that it doesn't matter how dark life may appear to be, or how hopeless a situation may feel, as long as there is still breath in our lungs, there is always light. There is always a way out.
After Mary and I finished with the picture and interview and I was walking back to my car, I got the feeling that I left too soon. I was enjoying the visit with Mary and I wish I would have allowed myself to hang out a little longer. (Well, if Mary would have been cool with that.) I've gotten into such a bad habit of taking pictures quickly because we're always racing against the bus. When I am afforded more time, I often forget to take advantage of it. If I could have done things differently, I would have visited with Mary a little while longer, and would have taken more pictures.
Best wishes to you and your family, Mary.
Day 78 - Jon
This is Jon. We met outside of the Hollywood Theatre. Jon was waiting to see "Birdman," which sounds like a must-see movie!
"Getting an apartment on Hawthorne," Jon answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Living on Hawthorne would be a dream. You can have the best social life in the world, and never even have to drive a car. There are thousands of things to do and everything is all within walking/biking distance. I can appreciate why this is the happiest thing happening in Jon's life right now.
I asked Jon if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Jon said that he gives money to homeless people all the time. He also has a friend who is currently homeless, and Jon lets him stay at his place when it's cold or raining. Jon is a good guy. I also later learned of another act of kindness which he hadn't mentioned. Crystal, from day 163 last year, and I have become Instagram friends and when I posted Jon's picture to instagram, she told us about another act of kindness. Jon and Crystal were neighbors and Jon recently helped Crystal move! Crystal's own family wasn't able to help, but Jon stepped in and helped her with the move. (up and down 3 flights of stairs!) Is Jon a good egg or what?
Jon's personal mission statement is a quote by James Dean - "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." Powerful.
When I asked Jon something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "my charm." He truly is a genuinely charming person.
Day 79 - Kathu
This is Kathu. We met walking down the street.
I asked Kathu the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she explained that she's a caregiver, and taking care of her clients brings her happiness. Kathu's profession not only brings her happiness, but it gives her the opportunity to give kindness daily.
"To be happy and do good things," Kathu answered when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose.
I asked Kathu something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she answered, "not living an ordinary life." In an odd happening of synchronicity, I had just started the audio book, "The Noticer Returns," by Andy Andrews. When Kathu gave the answer, "not living an ordinary life," I had been in the very same spot in the book which discussed living an average life, or choosing to live and extraordinary life. The timing was perfect and meeting Kathu reinforced the book's message that we have the ability to choose between the two. In fact, if we don't intentionally choose to live an extraordinary life, we will default to average. (Believe me, there's nothing wrong with living an average life. For some of us, to live an average life would be an extraordinary accomplishment.)
One of the reasons I like to ask people about their life's purpose or personal mission statement, is that it's my hope that the answer to the question will help people to identify their destination in life and hopefully guide them to the path which will take them there. I want people to find their extraordinary.
Day 80 - John
This is John. I saw him as he was about to cross the street. He was wearing the best pants in the world - they were the color of pickle juice!
"My twin brother getting married," John answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
John's recent act of kindness is actually going to happen next week, when he'll head to Seattle to volunteer for an outdoor program for disadvantaged kids.
When I asked John if he has a personal mission statement or a life's purpose, John answered, "I'm on a journey to figure that out." "My life's purpose is to figure out my purpose." Whatever you decide, John, I hope that it's extraordinary.
"My ability to make people laugh," John answered, when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Day 81 - Anden
This is Anden. We met on the patio of the Doug Fir.
I met my friend, Shauna, at Doug fir, and once again, we spent so much time visiting that I didn't remember to take a picture until it was really dark and raining. We headed out to the patio to find a subject and that's where we met Anden. Luckily, Anden was wearing a ball cap and he didn't mind hanging out with us in the rain.
I asked Anden the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he said that he's a musician, and he's happy that he's at a point where he's able to be self-sustainable playing music.
Anden is currently on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Anden has a dislocated shoulder and his friend is letting him borrow his expensive, smaller, bass set-up, which is much easier for Anden to carry and play than his own.
Anden's life purpose is to inspire others through music. Anden wants to expose people to any music other than "top 40" and hopes people will be inspired to hear music and play music that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to.
"Pulling off music and being self-sustaining with that," Anden answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Wishing you continued success, Anden!
Day 82 - Mandrew
This is Mandrew. We met at the store. It was Halloween and I was actually having a hard time finding a subject for the day. I had been rejected several times this day. I'm not sure why this was such a challenging day. I couldn't figure out if it was my black cat costume, or if people were just in a hurry to go get ready for Halloween partying. Mandrew was quite Dude-like in a bath robe, so I figured my chances were good that he would let me take his picture. I think Mandrew also looks like he could be a long lost Wahlberg brother! Until meeting Mandrew, I was starting to fear the project may come to an end on Halloween.
"Having a baby," Mandrew answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Mandrew's wife is due in May.
Mandrew's recent act of kindness is that he's part of a non-profit organization which raises money for various women and children's organizations by drinking beer! Yes, it's a real thing! The Bridge City Guild hosts events at different locations where the proceeds are then donated to women's and children's charities.
"Serve more than you are served," Mandrew answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or life's purpose.
"Taking care of my nieces," Mandrew answered, when I asked something about himself which he considers to be a success. Mandrew likes that he's a positive influence in the lives of two little girls.
Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Mandrew!
Day 84 - Mandy
This is Mandy. We now have the entire Ambiance Tan & Espresso team as subjects in this project. By now, you've figured out I'm a little attached to this place. I hadn't been able to figure it out exactly, but visiting with Mandy helped me to realize why this place warms my heart. They serve up more than lattes and vitamin D. I figured out that this little coffee shop/tanning salon, has a culture of kindness. That's why I love it. There are good people here.
I asked Mandy the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she answered, "working." Mandy was almost apologetic in her answer but when you consider the alternative, there's nothing wrong with being grateful for having a job.
Mandy's act of kindness is that she goes above and beyond a typical level of customer service, and is extremely kind to all of her customers.
Van Wilder's quote, "worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere," Mandy answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose. Mandy added a few other things by which she lives her life: "Treat other people how you want to be treated," and "presentation is everything."
Mandy and I had a great talk about "presentation is everything." She explained that she knows we're supposed to focus on what's on the inside, but we both agreed society isn't like that in real life. When we meet someone, we're assessed and judged in a matter of seconds. When we meet a person for the first time, we're instantly sized-up and categorized, and how people treat us is the result of their split-second assessment of us. Mandy learned to place high importance on physical appearance because she struggled and battled with a weight issue when she was a child. Mandy weighed 265 lbs in the 8th grade, and suffered because of how she looked.
Mandy said she still experiences snap-judgement assessments depending on how she's dressed. In her own personal little sociology experiments, she's noticed that she receives different treatment depending on the clothes she's wearing. If she's dressed like a soccer mom one day, she'll receive a certain kind of treatment. If she's dressed like a rocker chick, she's treated in a different way. When she's dressed professionally, she receives even different treatment.
I've experienced these snap-judgements and I know it's why I also place such a high importance on dressing nicely and pulling myself together. It's also why it's been sooooo awkward having to approach people in this project after having worked out. (Which is often - there's only so much time in a day and in order to do both this project and continue to work out, I've just had to get over my insecurities when I'm not looking my best.)
No matter how kind-hearted people may be, we've all been guilty of performing these spit-second assessments of people. It doesn't feel good when you know someone has assessed you to be a particular way, and even knowing we don't like it, we're still guilty of doing the same thing. Being aware of our tendency to make these snap-judgements is the first step in looking past how a person may be dressed and seeing them for the beautiful person they are. And once again, we also need to turn this practice inward and have a little more confidence in ourselves, regardless of how we may look at a particular moment.
When I asked Mandy something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "being a mother." She feels unsuccessful and successful at the same time. I think having those contrasting feelings, is an indication that someone is a good mom.
Thank you, Mandy!
Here's the summary of wisdom from this week's subjects:
- To raise kids with good morals and values, and to be happy
- Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."
- To be happy and do good things.
- My life's purpose is to figure out my purpose.
- To inspire others through music.
- Serve more than you are served.
- worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere.
- Treat other people how you want to be treated.
- Presentation is everything.
Thank you to each and every subject, and to you for following along.
Wishing you a happy week!