Happy New Year! We're finished with week 21!
I'm excited to tell you that I'm finally taking a real photography class next weekend! Well, it's not even really a "class." It's more like a life-changing opportunity to learn from one of the greats!
It's pretty intimidating, actually. Instead of wading in gradually, I'm diving in head-first and will attend a workshop being taught by Eric Kim. Eric Kim is one of the most well-known street photographers and bloggers in the world.
I'm nervous and intimidated because I'm lacking in some very basic skills. It's like taking a cooking class from Gordon Ramsay when you've never learned how to boil an egg, slice tomatoes properly, or make gravy. The beautiful thing about Eric Kim, is that he is as much a teacher as he is a photographer and writer. He has a genuine desire to teach anyone who has a genuine desire to learn.
I'm looking forward to expanding my mind and my skills, and sharing with you soon.
Day 140 - Christie
This is Christie. We met at the bus stop at the Mall.
The happiest thing happening in Christie's life right now is her work on a documentary film about Portland in the 70's, the music scene back then, and the murder of the father of her daughter. A documentary sounds like such a challenging undertaking and I can't wait till it's finished.
I asked Christie if she's recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she helped a woman and her son get off the streets and into a home.
Christie's life's purpose right now is, "to reach people for Jesus, finish the movie, and singing."
When I asked Christie something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "I'm a survivalist."
Thank you, Christie! Looking forward to seeing you you push your film through to fruition, and wishing you success!
Day 141 - Alex
This is Alex. We met just walking down the street together.
"My job," Alex answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Alex's recent act of kindness is one that he performs at least once per week. He sees an elderly homeless lady frequently, and at least one time per week, he gives her $5. She always thanks him and tells him it will help with her electric bill.
Alex's life's purpose is "to find happiness, be open to all types of people, and to be a good person in general."
I asked Alex something about himself which he considers to be a success and he answered, "my work ethic." Alex went on to explain he inherited it from his father, who inherited it from his father. We talked about how our parents can have such a strong influence on our work ethic and explained I also inherited my work ethic from my Mom, who never called in sick. Alex is 2.5 years into his apprenticeship program to become an electrician and he's not called in sick once.
Alex, thank you!
Day 142 - Bradina
This is Bradina. We met on the sidewalk. When I approached Bradina to ask if I could take her picture, she agreed, but then got this look on her face like, why did I just say yes? She explained she just got off work from her job as a dog groomer. I know I wouldn't feel at all camera-ready after having bathed just my one dog. She had been grooming dogs all day, so I appreciate her willingness to let me take her picture even after such a hard day's work.
When I asked Bradina about the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she said it was a hard question to answer. When people say that, it's usually for only two reasons - either life is so great that they can't choose the happiest thing happening in their lives, or the other reason is that life isn't so perfect right now. Bradina paused and then answered, "I have a job and a home, and it's my birthday tomorrow."
Bradina's recent act of kindness is that she had just alerted a woman driving by that her tire was flat. It had just happened. Bradina heard a noise and then saw the woman's flattened tire.
When I asked Bradina if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose, she wasn't able to give an answer, saying "it's a dilemma of mine, currently." We circled back to the question at the end and she answered that her purpose in life is, "raising my son to be a loving and caring gentleman." Something tells me she's already doing a great job of that.
"I made a career for myself," Bradina answered, when I asked something about herself which she considers to be a success. Brandina said that she hadn't imagined herself becoming a dog groomer. She started out assisting and bathing dogs, and then discovered that she has a natural talent for grooming.
Thank you, Bradina! Happy Birthday!
Day 143 - Ian
This is Ian. He was in a bit of a hurry, but stopped long enough to let me take his picture for the project. It was also freezing! I like this picture because it makes Ian look badass. As I was about to take the picture, Ian asked, "do I have to smile?" I told him he didn't have to smile if he didn't want to. This may be his tough-guy look and I know I'm blowing his cover - but in real life, he was about as sweet as could be.
I asked Ian the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he said, "I just proposed to my girlfriend...and she said yes!" They were just engaged about a week prior.
Ian's recent act of kindness is that he gave money to a homeless person.
"Do the best you can and try not to hurt anyone while you're doing it," Ian answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or life's purpose.
"Getting the girl in my life," Ian said, is something about himself which he considers to be a success. Awwww. Wishing you and your fiancé the very best!
Day 144 - Curtis
This is Curtis. We met at the little park along the Columbia River. Although it was cold, it was a beautiful day and I was surprised to see so many people starting out their new year strolling along the riverfront in the cold.
When I spotted Curtis and approached him to ask if I could take his picture for the project, he agreed without hesitation.
I asked Curtis the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he said, "to live to see another year, good health, and to be in retirement." Curtis went on to say that he's just so thankful for a lot of things in his life.
Curtis told me that he had come to the river to think about things and sort a few things out in his mind. Curtis was concerned that he couldn't articulate an answer as well as he would have liked. I could tell his mind was elsewhere and I explained to Curtis that I totally understand the feeling...I retreat to the trails/lakes/rivers myself, and I know how jolting it can be when you're deep in thought and then a person comes along and you have to force yourself to come back to the present moment and interact. I was happy Curtis shared a little of his time with me.
I asked Curtis if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Curtis said he's a giver -he helps his friends, family, kids and grandkids, and his ex-wife.
When I asked Curtis if he had a personal mission statement or life's purpose, he answered that his mission is, "to be rich and pass wealth onto my children and grandchildren so they don't have to struggle the way I did, and so they can become contributors and not takers." I could see love manifesting in physical form, right before my eyes. At that moment, I could see in Curtis' expression just how much love and hope he had for his children and grandchildren. It was as though I could see the love he had for his family, and the dreams he has for them, spill from his heart to become revealed by the look on his face and the sparkle in his eyes. I could just feel the love he has for his family.
Something about himself which Curtis considers to be a success, is that he's successfully raised three daughters who have all three graduated college, are married and raising families of their own, and he has a son who is still in college now. Curtis went on to remark just how good his daughters were growing up, and how he never had to worry about them being "renegades." They were good girls and didn't get into any trouble. I had to hide the tears that were forming in my eyes. I was wondering about Curtis' kids, and hoping they knew how very much their father loved them.
After we finished with the picture and interview, I thanked Curtis for letting me interrupt him and for being in the project. I commented that he picked a great spot to come and gather his thoughts. I love this spot on the river - you can stand on the Washington side of the river and look across to the Oregon side, and soothing action is all around you...planes, trains, automobiles, and boats. Somehow, instead of being overwhelmed by all of the movement; cars driving across the bridge, planes flying overhead, trains pounding down the rails, the river flowing by and transporting boats along with it, you can find peace there.
I hoped Curtis was able to sort out whatever was on his mind. After leaving him, I was struck with the thought that Curtis has already passed on immeasurable wealth to his family in the way he gives them his love.
Day 145 - Chris
This is Chris. We met at one of my favorite trails. Chris was about to unload his mountain bike and hit the trail when I approached to ask if I could take his picture for the project. Chris agreed, and then laughed a little, explaining that he had just come from a dentist appointment and his mouth was still numb. We took a few pictures so I could make sure I got one where he looked most natural, and not like he had just come from the dentist.
The happiest thing happening in Chris life right now is, "going to college."
I asked Chris if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Of course, Christmas was just last week so he answered, "giving and receiving gifts." Chris also added that his brother let him borrow his bike while he's home from college.
I asked Chris if he had a personal mission statement or life's purpose and he answered, "to get through college and find something that I like."
When I asked Chris something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "that I made it to college!"
Thank you, Chris! Wishing you success in school and whatever comes next.
Day 146 - Susan
This is Susan. We met at the trail.
"My health is good and my children are fine," Susan answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.
Susan's recent act of kindness is that she does volunteer work at the free clinic.
I asked Susan if she has a personal mission statement or life's purpose and she answered that her purpose in life is "to watch my children grow up, doing well." Susan said that's the main reason she doesn't want to exit life early.
"I'm 73 and still working," Susan said, when I asked her something about herself which she would consider to be a success. She had also just finished walking 5 miles with her dog! (I think she said 5 miles.) I told Susan that my mom is her age and she's still working as well, and that she thinks it keeps her young. Susan agreed and told me to tell my mom that she's right!
Thank you, Susan!
Here's a summary of the personal mission statements or life's purposes of the subjects from this week:
- To reach people for Jesus, finish the movie, and singing.
- To find happiness, be open to all types of people, and to be a good person in general.
- Raising my son to be a loving and caring gentleman.
- Do the best you can and try not to hurt anyone while you're doing it.
- To be rich and pass wealth onto my children and grandchildren so they don't have to struggle the way I did, and so they can become contributors and not takers.
- To get through college and find something that I like.
- To watch my children grow up, doing well.
Thank you for following along, and thank you to all of the subjects in this project! We're learning so much from you, and appreciate that you shared yourself with us.