365 More People Pictures - Week 49

Hello! This is week 49 of my second personal challenge to take a picture of a person, every day, for a year.

This blog is actually a few weeks behind real-time.  I'm sorry I'm behind here, but you can follow along in real-time on Instagram, where I post daily.  My Instagram username is @missellanea.

 

Day 336 - Claire

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This is Claire.  We met in the park where I spotted her sitting on a bench, reading a book, and looking like she was just enjoying the day.  We ended up visiting for quite a while.  She told me a little about her life, and I told her a little about mine.  We discovered that we share many similarities and in some aspects, we're living (or about to live) parallel lives.   I love that this project has introduced me to so many great people. Visiting with Claire felt like I was talking with my mom or aunts.

The happiest thing happening in Claire's life is she's recovering from skin cancer, and she's also going to visit Spain and stay with family.

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Claire's recent act of kindness is that she gave bus fare to a girl who appeared to be in a bad situation and needing to get out.  Claire also gave a sandwich to a homeless person, along with a reusable bag for the person to carry their belongings.

"Being aware of life and understanding cultures," Claire said, is her life's purpose.

When I asked Claire something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "I think I'm a little clairvoyant, or I read people."  Perhaps she's both...the interaction we shared was one in which I really needed this day and I felt better having met her.  Hopefully she felt the same.

Thank you, Claire.

 

Day 337 - Sher

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This is Sher.  I love it when I ask people the happiest thing happening in their lives, and they're so positive and so many great things are happening, that they can't choose just one. (The only thing that makes me happier than this, is when someone is temporarily in a bad spot, but still manages to find happiness, or gratitude, in something...even if it is simply just being alive.)  Sher decided to give the answer that she's happy to be close to her daughter, and her relationship.

Sher was recently on the receiving end of an act of kindness, twice over, in one situation. She scored a great used washer from FreeCycle and her friend drove over 30 miles to help her pick it up!  (That's a great friend!)

"To bring more joy into the world," Sher answered, when I asked her life's purpose.

When I asked Sher something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "I have a great kid!"

Thank you, Sher.

 

Day 338 - Nate

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This is Nate.  The happiest thing happening in his life right now is his marriage.  One surprising observation I've had during these past two years, is that men are entirely more sentimental and sensitive than what I've ever realized.  I haven't gone back to do an actual count of how many guys have answered that their relationship is the happiest thing happening in their life, but the number is surprisingly high, and actually quite touching.

Nate's recent act of kindness is that before we met, he had just held the door open for a large family.

"Life's just to enjoy it," Nate answered, when I asked his life's purpose.  Again, Nate is another person who grounds us and reminds us that while we're in pursuit of our dreams and  fulfilling our mission in life, we must remember to also enjoy it!

"I'm pretty successful in my career," Nate answered, when I asked something about himself that he considers to be a success.  Nate has managed to find it all.  Happy marriage, successful career, and he's enjoying life too!   Thank you, Nate!

Day 339 - Parrish

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This is Parrish.  The happiest thing happening in his life is that he's been clean and sober for a while, he's getting back in the gym, and he's going to school for engineering.

"To do something to change the world for the better," Parrish answered, when I asked his life's purpose. I was happy for Parrish, and reminded him that simply by keeping clean, he's already changed his little corner of the world for the better.

"Being a father...the father I never had, and having a good relationship with my kids," Parrish answered, when I asked something about himself he considers to be a success.

Wishing you continued happiness and success, Parrish.

Day 340 - Becki

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This is Becki. You've met her before.  She's one of my oldest and dearest friends.  Although I didn't look up her comments from her first appearance in this project, we laughed because we're pretty sure she had given very similar answers.

The happiest thing happening in her life at the time of this picture, is that she had just returned from a great vacation with her family.

Becki is one of those people who pretty much performs an act of kindness at least a half-dozen times a day.  She's just that nice, thoughtful and caring.  She's also trying to instill in her kids to be of service to the community and to those in need, so her service-work is a family affair.  They volunteer with several different programs, events and organizations.  While on vacation, they saw a girl crying on the side of the road so they stopped to offer help. "I just need to get home," the girl cried.  Becki gave the girl all of the food they had left, water, and money for a bus ticket.

"Live each day to the fullest because you don't know if you'll be here tomorrow," Becki answered, when I asked her life's purpose.  Becki embraces this and truly lives it each day.  She survived a near-fatal accident just after high school, and because of it, she packs in about 3 days worth of living into each day.

When I asked Becki something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "my family...my kids." Her kids are smart, kind and loving and they're growing into exceptional young adults.

Becki, thank you for being the beautiful mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend that you are.  I love you.

 

Day 341 - Amber

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This is Amber.  We met outside of Hollywood Theatre.  I seriously did a double check, and then a triple check, to make sure she wasn't Cameron Diaz.  Amber is as nice and fun, as she is beautiful.  She was on a date and I just wanted to steal her away so that we could go make more pictures!  She's just so much fun in front of the camera!

When I asked Amber the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she answered, "this man right behind me," as she looked over her shoulder to her date who was patiently waiting for us to finish doing our thing.

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Amber feels like she's on both the receiving and giving end of kindness every day!  Recently, she lost her wallet and a stranger returned it to her!

"To meet and interact with people," Amber said, is her life's purpose.  She's living this purpose - I don't think you could walk past Amber without stopping to visit with her.  She radiates fun and friendliness, and she's someone you just have to talk to!

When  I asked Amber something about herself she considers a success, she answered, "my babies."

Thank you for being your bright and sunshiny self, Amber!

 

Day 342 - David

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This is David.  When I met David, he and his photographer/videographer friends were in a hurry, chasing light, on their way to go shoot one of the bridges.   We only had time for one question, but we exchanged numbers and we did the rest of the "interview" via text messages.

"To make other people happy," David answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

Below are the rest of David's answers from our text interview.  (I want to try this more often!)

Question:  What is the happiest thing happening in your life right now?

David's Answer:  I have been doing a lot of reflection and practicing self awareness recently in my life, and I'm finally finding my own way here in Portland.  I moved here a year and a half ago, for a job, and finally finding my way.

Question:  Have you recently performed an act of kindness or have you been on the receiving end of an act of kindness?

David's Answer:  I work for Willamette University's professional MBA program. On Wednesday, my coworker and I drove down to Eugene and back to Portland, delivering over 200 sugar cookies to a dozen of our students at their work. It was surprising for so many of our students who work full time, have families and lives and also take MBA classes. I am amazed by all of them. They're the reason it's easy to come to work everyday, so we do what we can to make them feel happy.

Question:  What's something about yourself you consider to be a success?

David's Answer:  My biggest success has been my personal growth since I moved here. I'm becoming the man I always wanted to be.  I used to cry at sleepovers, (in my own backyard) worrying about my family.  And [now] I find myself 2800 miles from home, away from family, starting and building a life for myself.  I even surprise myself sometimes!

I loved meeting David.  He's the type of person with whom you feel an instant connection.  We said we would do coffee some day, and so much time has passed, I worry he wouldn't remember me.  But, he's been on my mind and I definitely want to be in touch with him again soon.  Thank you, David.  I hope we can make that coffee date happen.

I loved our text interview.   Regretfully, I haven't used a voice recorder for this project.   I just jot notes in my journal as quickly as I can.  Some people are short and concise in their answers and I can easily write what they've said, but other people's answers are long, beautiful, interactions but I miss so much of their valuable significance and wisdom because I'm simply unable to note everything they've said.   I have to rely on my memory to fill in the gaps left by the hastily written notes in my journal.  And, I had no idea my poor little memory was going to get so spotted after 40-ish-something.  If I were to ever continue doing this, I think it's time to get serious and record the interviews. I've now even considered broadcasting the interviews live on Periscope.  (But I'm just way too bashful for that, and I think potential subjects would also shy away from an interview if they knew it would be a live broadcast to the world - or at least the few people watching live on Periscope.)   At the very least, I think it's time to dig deeper and learn even more about people's personal stories.

Here's the summary of the life's purpose of the subjects from this week:

  • Being aware of life and understanding cultures.
  • To bring more joy into the world.
  • Life's just to enjoy it.
  • To do something to change the world for the better.
  • Live each day to the fullest because you don't know if you'll be here tomorrow.
  • To meet and interact with people.
  • To make other people happy.

Thank you to every subject in this project. If you would like your picture, please don't hesitate to email me.

And, thank you for continuing to follow along. I'm striving to get back on track and will keep working at it until I do.

Have a great week!

 

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 48

Hello! This is week 48 of the 365 More People Pictures Project.

In real time, I've actually finished this second 365 Day project.  I've decided to combine the first 365 Day Project, together with this 365 Day Project, add another 270 Days, and call it: "1KPhotoaday." I'm currently working on the last 270 photos, and I instagram those pictures daily.

I'm sorry I've fallen so behind on the blog.  Summer is peak season at my work and some big life changes are happening right now.  I've fallen behind and it's been a challenge to catch up.  Please know that I've continued to take a picture of a person every day, and if you'd like to follow along with the daily photo, my Instagram username is @missellanea.

 

Day 48 - Edward

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This is Edward.  We met at a rest stop along I-5.

The happiest thing happening in Edward's life, is his 10-year-old Son.

When I asked Edward his life's purpose, he explained that it changes all the time, but presently ,"it's my family...taking care of them."

"My career has been a success so far, and the raising of my family...that's what drives me," Edward said, when I asked something about himself he considers to be a success.

Thank you, Edward.

 

Day 330 - Deandre

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This is Deandre.  We met walking down the street.

"My children," Deandre answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Deandre's life's purpose:  "to add to life."

"Graduating high school," Deandre said, is something about himself he considers a success.

Thank you, Deandre! Wishing you and your children much happiness.

 

Day 331 - Neil

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This is Neil.

The happiest thing happening in his life is graduating college.  Neil looked so stylish and professional, I assumed he had already landed a job after college and had just finished work, but Neil explained that he had been out job-hunting all day.  I asked Neil what his dream job would be and he said working for ESPN.

"To learn and to educate others," Neil answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

When I asked Neil something about himself which he considers a success, he answered, "it took 8 years but I finished a college degree while holding down a job and going to school."

Congratulations, Neil!  Wishing you the very best of luck in finding a job that both fulfills and sustains you.

 

Day 332 - Elissa

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This is Elissa. We met at the bus stop.

When I asked Elissa the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she said that she's happy when she's tending to the plants she's growing, or whenever she's outside, or riding her bike.

I asked Elissa if she's recently performed an act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of kindness.  On the receiving end, her co-worker had just given her a ride to the bus stop where we met.  The ride cut out a ton of travel time and a couple busses on her commute home.  On the giving end, Elissa found $10 and a receipt at the store.  She gave both the money and the receipt to the cashier, hoping it could be returned.

"To realize my gifts and to embody them, and to use, or be, them to the fullest," Elissa answered, when I asked her life's purpose.

Elissa's answer touches on why I even ask this question.  There are some pretty amazing people in my life, both personally and professionally.  The only downside of being around so many amazing people who have their shit together, is that it can really cause you to question and examine your own life, sometimes resulting in massive feelings of inadequacy.  Maybe "inadequacy" isn't the right word.  At the very least, amazing people who have their shit together, motivate you to want to get your own shit together too!

One of the common characteristics of some of the people I admire and who are of inspiration to me, is that they don't wander aimlessly in life.  They live with purpose and it seems like they've had definiteness of purpose nearly their entire lives.  Like Elissa, even if they didn't know that exact purpose, they didn't sit around waiting for purpose to find them.  They explored life, looking for meaning and their place in it.

Yes, I think it's probably apparent from this project and the questions that I ask, that I'm experiencing a bit of an existential crisis.  I would blame it on my age, mid-40's, but I think I've been this way my entire life.  I believe we're here for a reason, and as much as I've searched, I've not yet found mine. Hearing the answers of all of the subjects in this project is getting me closer to the target.   Even the subjects in this project who believe we really have no set purpose in life, ironically, seem to fill the purpose of reminding the rest of us to be easy, have fun, enjoy life, and that pursuing happiness is an adequate and admirable purpose in life.

This project has gotten me closer to my life's purpose than anything I've experienced so far...I know it is part of my purpose.  At least, it feels like the only meaningful thing I've done with myself in my 40-something years.  But, I'm not done yet.

Thank you, Elissa.  One of  your gifts is planting seeds...be it seeds of actual plants, or of ideas. You help things to grow.

 

Day 333 - Tiana

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This is Tiana.  We met on the street.

The happiest thing happening in Tiana's life is that she just moved to Portland.

When I asked if she had recently performed and act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, she said that a friend drove with her to help her move from Nebraska to Portland!  What a great friend!

"To bear witness to other people's journey and to lead them gently back to themselves," Tiana said, is her life's purpose.  If you gathered from Tiana's answer that she's a social worker, you would be correct.

Thank you, Tiana! Welcome to Portland!

 

Day 334 - Michelle

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This is Michelle.  We met on the street.

The happiest thing happening in her life is her new job, and hanging out with friends.

Michelle's recent act of kindness is that she gave a BBQ dinner to her neighbor who has 3 kids.

"To care about others and to give to others whatever I can," Michelle answered, when I asked her life's purpose.   Michelle added that we always have something we could give, share or do for others.  We may not have unlimited funds, but we can always give of our time or of ourselves.

 

Day 335 -  Ryan

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This is Ryan.  We met on the street.

The happiest thing happening in his life is his new job.

When I asked Ryan if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of kindness, he answered, "both."  Ryan collects jackets and clothing for homeless people and some of the local bars even help him in his collection efforts by setting out collection barrels to gather clothing.  On the receiving end, his bike got a flat tire and a complete stranger gave him a ride home!

"To serve, and to be the neighbor that everybody wants," Ryan answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

"That I'm still alive," Ryan answered, when I asked something about himself he considers a success.

Thank you, Ryan.  I would want you for my neighbor.

 

Here's a summary of the life's purposes of the subjects from this week:

  • It's my family...taking care of them.
  • To add to life.
  • To learn and educate others.
  • To realize my gifts and to embody them, and to use, or be, them to the fullest.
  • To bear witness to other people's journey and to lead them gently back to themselves.
  • To care about others and to give to others whatever I can.
  • To serve, and to be the neighbor that everybody wants.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to every subject in this project.  If you're happy with your picture and would like a copy, please don't hesitate to email me.

 

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 46

Hello! These are the subjects from week 46.

In real-time, the project just ended this past Monday, August 10th.  The blog is behind a few weeks and I will continue to share the rest of the subjects from the 365 More People Pictures project.

I finished the first project and never really wrote a full summary as I felt I should have, but instead I just dove right into this second year.  As the end of this current project was approaching, I put enormous amounts of pressure on myself that I really need to write something spectacular...or at the very least, special.  I wonder if I allowed myself to fall behind on this blog as a way to force myself to spend time in reflection over all I have learned throughout these past two years?

All of these people, all of the wisdom they've shared...it feels like I was entrusted with this and now I need to do something with it. It needs to be bigger than what it is here on my little blog.  But when I think about that, about that possibility, it becomes entirely too overwhelming for me.  I shut down, and then all I want to do is keep on keeping on...just as things are.

I just want to continue taking a picture of a person every day.  I just want to force myself each day to be brave, talk with a person, learn a little more about them,  exchange genuine warmth and interest with another person, and through it all, hopefully capture them at the precise moment in which their sparkle, or their beautiful nature, becomes apparent to me. And I want to share it with you.

A better person could make something more of this.  A better person could assemble all of these beautiful people and their beautiful messages together and create a book.  Or at the very least, a better person could write some advice to photographers wishing to challenge themselves to a 365 Day Project. Although I'm lacking the knowledge to teach anyone anything about photography, I've learned a thing or two about perseverance.   I feel like I owe it to these subjects, and I owe it to the effort I've given this the past two years, to creating at least something which will help inspire or encourage others.

For now, I'll continue sharing the subjects for this project.   Perhaps I will be able to create some final words or something bigger to thank and honor these people the way they deserve to be honored and thanked.  I may not succeed at any sort of book, or any sort of beautifully written and inspiring essay...but this process, and every subject in this project, has changed me.

 

Day 315 - Kim

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This is Kim, my sister-in-law.

Even in its final days, I appreciated this project and process because were it not for this, I wouldn't have shared this moment with Kim.  We see each other only at special occasions and holidays when the family gathers.  I realized that Kim and I haven't really talked other than to catch up briefly on the happenings of our lives, which really only scratches just the surface.  You know how that goes.

Visiting with Kim and asking these 4 simple questions, the same ones I've been asking strangers, provided us both with the opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

The happiest thing happening in Kim's life right now is spending the summer with her kids.

I asked Kim if she had recently performed an act of kindness or if she had been on the receiving end of an act of kindness.  She thought about it for a moment and remembered that one of her friends had just given her some plants. Kim was feeling bad because she couldn't remember a specific example of an act of kindness which she had performed.  I laughed as I had to remind her that less than a few minutes earlier, she had given me a surprise gift of a beautiful necklace she made.  (Check out Kim's necklaces here.)   She had completely forgotten the kind gesture she had performed just a few minutes prior.

I've noticed most of the subjects in this project have trouble thinking of, or remembering, specific acts.  I think we often forget because we've performed the act selflessly.   Although it's often difficult to think of a specific act we may have performed, it's been a common trait that nearly every single one of us strives to be kind and to do kind things for others.  We can be pretty beautiful creatures.

"To be a good mom, to serve God, to be a good friend to people, and to be a good wife," Kim answered, when I asked her life's purpose.  She does, and is, all of these things.

When I asked Kim something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she answered, "I have good kids...they're happy kids."

Thank you, Kim.

 

Day 316 - Rich

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This is Rich. We met at the park.

"My recovery," Rich answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  Rich is celebrating close to 4 year, sober.  Awesome work, Rich!

I asked Rich if he had recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of kindness.  Rich explained that he was on the receiving end of kindness in recovery and in the AA program, and now he's able to be on the giving end.  Through his work in the program, he wants to "give back to the next suffering alcoholic, the same way it was so freely given to me."  Rich had also recently paid for a guy's groceries at the store.

"To help others," Rich answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

As happens so frequently in this project, when I asked Rich something about himself which he would consider to be a success, the answer was the same for this question as it was for the first. "My recovery," Rich said, without hesitation.

Rich, wishing you the very best of luck and success in recovery and in helping others. Keep up the hard work. Keep up the good work.  Thank you.

 

Day 317 - Josh

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This is Josh.  We met at the bus stop.

The happiest thing happening in his life is letting go to a lot of his attachment to ego.

Josh was recently on both the giving and receiving end of kindness when someone reached out for some help online, and Josh was able to offer help to that person.  Kindness came full circle, when it was Josh who needed help with a situation. He put out a request online and someone was able to return the act of kindness and provide Josh with assistance and answers.

"Self-fulfillment, my spiritual quest, and discovering my true self," Josh answered, when I asked his life's purpose.  (I get it, Josh.  Sometimes I think it's the true reason I've found myself in this project.)

"Realizing that I'm something more than what I thought I was, detaching from ego," Josh answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

Thank you, Josh.

 

Day 318 - James

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This is James.  We met outside Hollywood Theatre.

"My son just turned 4," James answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

James' recent act of kindness is that he was treating friends to a movie.

"To be a good father and husband," James said, is his life's purpose.

Something about himself which he would consider to be a success is his family.

Thank you, James.

 

Day 319 - Arielle

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This is Arielle.

The happiest thing happening in her life right now is that she just moved to Portland, from Texas.

I asked Arielle if she's recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she's hoping to become a volunteer at an arts center as soon as she gets settled.

"Helping people learn their full potential," Arielle answered, when I asked her life's purpose.

"I'm not a quitter," Arielle said, when I asked something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  Attagirl, Arielle!  I love Arielle's answer and what I loved even more is that she didn't even have to think about it.  She answered quickly and confidently...and having been one to say that about myself, I think I have insight into her little secret.  When Arielle said the words, I think she was both congratulating and convincing her own self just as much as she was answering my question.  Keep it up, Arielle.  You're not a quitter. I can just feel it.

 

Day 320 - Joe

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This is Joe.  Although we met randomly on the street, I soon realized he was the same Joe with whom I had been working with on some personal business throughout that previous week!

The happiest thing happening in Joe's life is summer, here in Portland.

Joe's recent act of kindness is that he opened up his home to 5 friends who were on an epic road trip! Not only did he let them stay at his place, he fed them too! (And I would say he was also quite helpful and attentive to me as I was about to undertake something scary!)

"To make other people happy," Joe answered, is his life's purpose.

I asked Joe something about himself he would consider to be a success and he answered that it was being here on the west coast. He had set a goal for himself that he wanted to move here by his 25th birthday, and he just celebrated his 25th here in Portland!

Thank you, Joe. Welcome to Portland, and thank you for your help!

 

Day 321 - Erek

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This is Erek. He's my dear friend's brother.

It's so confounding.  One of my best photos ever taken was of Erek, but on this night, I could not make a decent image to save my life.  I was having some technical issues, but once that was sorted out, I should have done better.  Erik is a great subject but I just couldn't perform.

Until starting this project, I didn't have a complete understanding or appreciation of success and failure in photography.   I never understood that for one decent or good picture, there were thousands and thousands of others which weren't good, or which were actually pretty horrible. The downside of a 365 Day Project, at least the way I've approached it, is that I've had to share all of those off-days to keep the 365 day streak intact.  I've had to show everything...some of which actually make me cringe when I look at the photos. I've had to share every single mistake...the same mistakes I make day after day after day.  And then every once in a while, we have a decent picture.  I feel extremely vulnerable and naked in this project, but I wouldn't want it any other way. (For now, at least.)

The happiest thing happening in Erek's life right now is being a father.

I asked Erek if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Erek said that he always tries to be nice to everyone.

When I asked Erik his life's purpose, he said that 6 years ago, he lacked the direction to be able to answer this question but now he's certain his life's purpose is, "being a father and raising my son to grow up to be a good man."  I'm certain you're doing this, Erek.  You're a great dad.

Something about himself which he considers to be a success is that he's never tried any sort of drugs.  Although he's been around it,  he's never been influenced.

Thank you, Erek.

 

Here's a summary of the life's purposes of the subjects from this week:

  • To be a good mom, to serve God, to be a good friend to people, and to be a good wife.
  • To help others.
  • Self-fulfillment, my spiritual quest, and discovering my true self.
  • To be a good father and husband.
  • Helping people learn their full potential.
  • To make other people happy.
  • Being a father and raising my son to grow up to be a good man.

 

Thank you for reading!

365 More People Pictures - Week 33

Hello! Thank you for stopping by to meet the people from week 33!

 

Day 224 - Oliver & Jaka

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This is Oliver and Jaka.  We met at the bus stop.

I've found it best to split up the questions when a group or couple is the photo of the day.  You'll notice that I still really shy away from couples and groups.   Before starting this project, I didn't pause to think about shooting a quick little snap of a group or couple. It was fun and you just want to capture the moment.  And really, it's easy to take a cute picture of a couple or group with a camera phone or point & shoot.  When you're first learning a DSLR, sometimes you'll want to throw up your hands, shouting,  "I give up! My iPhone is easier!"

One thing I learned quickly as I started to dive into educating myself about photography and when I got my first DSLR, is that it's actually very easy to take a bad picture or ruin a picture of a group or couple.  As you begin to learn more about composition, things that never used to bother you, become nagging challenges to overcome.  Little things such as differences in height or lop-sided gaps or negative spaces between people now jump out at me and I get bummed when I don't catch them during the shot.  It sticks out so much now, it can prevent me from enjoying a photo.  Now, I can't just simply shoot a quick little photo of my girlfriends and be happy about it.  Now, I look at the picture and see all of these things I should have done differently.  Of course it happens with single portraits as well, but with couples or groups,  the challenges are multiplied and for that reason, I've been a bit intimidated by couples and groups.  The only way to improve is with practice, so I'm forcing myself to rise to the challenge.  Plus, it's always great talking with a group of people!

When I asked Oliver the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he looked over at Jaka with adoration in his eyes and simply answered, "Jaka."  Awwwww.

When I asked Jaka if she recently performed an act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, she paused and then answered, "I think....you."  Yes! She was so right! I love it when people catch that they're in the middle of performing an act of kindness simply by taking the time to talk to me, a complete stranger, and allowing me to take their picture and share a little of their lives here with you.

I asked Oliver his life's purpose and he answered, "to write a film that will change at least one person's life."  It sounds like Oliver has been quite prolific and he's created several films.  The next step, which is even harder than actually birthing an idea and giving it life, is then figuring out how to share it with the world.  I wished Oliver good luck, and can't wait till we can all see one of his films!

When I asked Jaka something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she answered, "having an attitude of gratitude, and I feel that we're all equal."

Oliver and Jaka were such a sweet and loving couple and I'm so glad I set aside my fear of couples/groups and allowed myself to meet them!

Wishing you both love and success!

Thank you.

 

Day 225 - Deontae

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This is Deontae.  We also met at the bus stop.

I'm running a bit behind, but when I asked Deontae the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he answered that he was happy he would find out the following Wednesday, if he got the job for which he had been hoping.   Deontae was a great guy, and I hope he got the job.  Maybe I'll bump into him again and find out the good news!

I asked Deontae if he's recently performed an act of kindness and he answered that he gives money to homeless people. He explained that he's been there before and knows what a difference a few dollars can make.

When I asked Deontae his life's purpose, he answered, "to get married, have a family, move overseas, and pursue a career in architecture."   Deonatae's ambitions are both grand and simple at the same time.

I asked Deontae something about himself which he would consider to be a success and when he answered, his entire face lit up.  "Being happy-spirited...it's gotten me far in life," Deontae beamed. I loved witnessing his happy spirit and I just knew that if he shined like that in his interview, the new job is his!

Wishing you great luck, Deontae!

 

Day 226 - Aaron

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This is Aaron.  We met on the street.

The happiest thing happening in Aaron's life right now is his home, and building a garden with his partner.

When I asked Aaron if he's recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that in general, he's a friendly and nice person.  Although you can't tell in the picture, Aaron has really long hair, and just as he was answering this question, another "fellow long-hair" walked by and made a comment and gestured to their matching long locks.  Aaron complimented the man on his hair and I cracked up watching the instant connection the two formed.

"To be of service to others," Aaron answered, when I asked his life's purpose.  Aaron does this by bringing his Midwest hospitality to the Northwest and sharing his friendly disposition.  He really is a friendly guy.  When I approached Aaron, it dawned on me that once again, my memory card was at home in my laptop.  I usually always carry spares but I had been completely off-routine for several days and working out of three different camera bags. (which is just asking for trouble.)  Aaron was so cool and easy-going.  He explained he had time to kill before his movie started and would wait if I wanted to run to buy a new memory card at the Rite Aid across the street.  His chill demeanor helped me to keep chill too.  I walked back to my car to get my wallet and in the process of doing so, I remembered I DID bring spare cards!!  Hanging out with Aaron was just like hanging out with a friend who goes with the flow until things sort themselves out.  I was glad to have met Aaron.

"I don't suck at life," Aaron answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

Thank you, Aaron. Thank you for being so friendly.

 

Day 227 - Lou

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This is my friend, Lou.  Yes, you've seen him before in last year's project.

I met with Lou, and my friend Debbie, and by time we finished with what we were doing, it was way too late to go out in search of a subject.  Lou was nice enough to make his second appearance in the project.  Plus, I'm really glad he did, because now I can share some of his band's pictures too!

I asked Lou the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "a new venture!"  I'll share more about that in the future.

When I asked Lou if he's recently performed an act of kindness, at first he couldn't think of an answer and then it finally hit him - he and Debbie are responsible for our whole "Project Brown Bag" movement, in which we give out brown lunch bags filled with snacks to homeless people we see on street corners.  Were it not for Debbie and Lou, it would be really easy to slip out of the habit of carrying "brown bags" in our car.  (Sometimes weeks can go by before I refill my stock, but Debbie and Lou always send us away with more brown bags to hand out.

"When you leave the world, leave it a better place," Lou answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

"My leadership abilities," Lou answered, when I asked something about himself which he considers to be a success.

Lou just formed a new band, "Vasoline."  They do primarily Stone Temple Pilots covers.  Lou has been playing with his former band for several years.  It was mainly a bunch of guys who got together for fun.  I was bummed to hear they were moving on, but happy to hear Lou was starting a new band and he was going to be the lead singer!  Lou sang with his old band every once in a while, and he was good, but I didn't know what to expect with his new band.

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They had their first show just a couple weeks ago and I was completely blown away!  I was so happy and impressed with the band, and especially Lou!  I had no idea that he had a total rock star hidden underneath his laid back, low stress, soft-spoken demeanor.  He killed it!  They all did!  It was so awesome!  I got pretty wrapped up in taking photographs and the lighting, or lack there of, was a huge challenge so sometimes I was pretty engrossed in my camera.  Later, on my way home,  I got goose bumps just thinking about how great they did. The sound was excellent and you would never have guessed this was their first show!

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I was so proud of Lou and his new band, and can't wait to see & hear 'em again!

 

Day 228 - Courtney

 

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This is Courtney.  We met at Starbucks.

I love this picture!  When we attempted a "serious" picture, both Courtney and I cracked up and couldn't stop laughing and smiling.  This was one of the in-between pictures and I just love it!  Some of my very favorite photos are the "in-betweens" I've caught when I've just kept shooting in-between "real" photos.   Knowing this, I now know to keep shooting the "in-betweens" and I can just "feel" when an "in-between" shot is really going to be the shot I was looking for.

Recently, I tried to shoot a large family portrait and even deliberately set up an "in-between" shot by staging a fake posed shot, followed by a pause before the next "posed" or deliberate shot.  During the in-between, if you can manage to say something funny or get people to do something silly, or ridiculous, the in-between will likely become the money shot.  It wasn't working for my large group photo, probably because I tried too hard.  With Courtney, we were genuinely having a fun time and I was lucky enough to capture it.  She's a beautiful girl, and I was just happy to spend a brief moment, on a warm sunny patio, talking to a complete stranger who felt more like talking with a friend.

"My daughter," Courtney answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

When I asked Courtney if she's recently performed an act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of kindness, she gave me a what-a-coincidence-look and held up the book she had been reading.  Courtney is going to school and has hopes of becoming an art therapist. Kindness will be her profession.  On the receiving end, she recently received help completing all of the necessary paperwork for her to be able to return to school.

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"Letting go of resentments and accepting that we are all one,  to be the best mother and person that I can possibly be, and to leave a positive imprint," Courtney answered, when I asked her life's purpose.

When I asked Courtney something about herself which she considers to be a success, Courtney answered, "I think I give good advice, and I'm a loyal friend."

Thank you, Courtney!  Wishing you the best of luck and success in school and with your daughter!

 

Day 229 - Scott

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This is Scott.  We met walking down the street.  Scott was in town, from Michigan, for a Martial Arts convention.  This is a deliberatly serious-looking picture, but when I stopped him, I could immediately tell that he was pretty much a teddy bear.  Scott was in a hurry to find the studio hosting the event, but was nice enough to stop and give me the time to take his picture.

"Being a Dad," Scott answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

When I asked Scott if he's recently performed an act of kindness, he said that he gave money to a homeless person, and also that he bought his kids presents to bring back home to them.

"Be a good dad, be a good person," Scott answered, when I asked his life's purpose.

When I asked Scott something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered that he recently got and accepted a job offer to teach full time.  "Teaching is what I'm best at," Scott added.

Thank you, Scott!  Good luck!

 

Day 230 - John 

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This is John.  We met on the sidewalk. I think he had just gotten off work.

The happiest thing happening in John's life right now is that he's met a lot of new friends at WSU.

When I asked John if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of kindness, John explained that he works at Starbucks and he feels like serving coffee is one way in which he's also able to serve the community.   John gives kindness in his friendly service and he feels like he's the recipient of kindness on a daily basis.  John explained that some of his customers are now more like friends.

"To bring laughter into the world," John answered, when I asked his personal mission statement.  John loves to make people laugh because it gives them an outlet to express a side of themselves that they suppress.

One thing about himself which John considers to be a success, is "being diligent with college."  John explained he was the first in his family to graduate from High School and go onto College!  His family must be so proud!

Thank you, John!  Good luck!

Here's the summary of the personal mission statements and life's purposes of the subjects from this week.

  • To write a film that will change at least one person's life.
  • To get married, have a family, move overseas, and pursue a career in architecture.
  • To be of service to others.
  • When you leave the world, leave it a better place.
  • Letting go of resentments and accepting that we are all one, to be the best mother and person that I can possibly be, and to leave a positive imprint.
  • Be a good dad, be a good person.
  • To bring laughter into the world.

 

Thank you to every subject in this project!  Thank you for sharing yourself with us.  Please remember, if you'd like a copy of your photo, please drop me a message and I would love to email it to you!

And thank you for following along!

 

Have a great week!

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 25

Hello! Thank you for checking out week 25 of the 365 More People Pictures project.  If this is your first time checking in, this is my second personal 365 Day Photography challenge to take a picture of a person every day for another year.  The majority of the people in this project are strangers, but also included are a few friends, family and co-workers.

I got my first DSLR a little over 540 days ago and in attempt to learn photography so that I could have visual content for this blog, I challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every single day, for an entire year. When the first 365 days were finished, I just couldn't stop!  I discovered I loved meeting and talking with people so I challenged myself to another 365 Days. Plus, I was a little worried if I didn't continue another project, I might set down my camera and not make the time or find a reason to pick it up ever again.  I love photography, and challenging myself to a 365 Day Project gives me a very good excuse, and very good motivation, to stick with it.  Plus, I just still have soooooo much more to learn!

I didn't have a clear path set when I started this blog, and obviously the project has now taken over the entire purpose of the blog.  That may change some day, but for now, I'm just loving what I've been doing and all the people I've had the opportunity to talk with.

If you'd like to follow along daily, my instagram username is @missellanea.

 

Day 168 - Amber the Corgi, and Her Human

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This is Amber and her Human.  They were out for a walk at Esther Short Park on this foggy day.

I asked Amber's human the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she said that it was moving out here from Albuquerque.

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"I wish I could think of something deep and meaningful, but I just want to do good in my life and be happy," Amber's human said, when I asked if she has a personal mission statement.  It doesn't matter how the words are constructed, striving to do good and being happy is meaningful.

When I asked Amber's human something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "I'm independent."

Welcome to the Northwest, Amber & her Human

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As I was leaving the park, I looked over just in time to see this man walking out of a dense patch of fog.  It looked like something out of a scary movie!  I was both fascinated and a little creeped out too.

 

Day 169 - Kyle

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This is Kyle. We met at Starbucks.

"This beautiful weather!  I spent the weekend outdoors with my family," Kyle answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  This week was a little bizarre as far as weather goes.  We went from cold and fog so think you could practically feel it, to having sunshine and spring-lik temperatures.

I asked Kyle if he's recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of kindness. Kyle said that he's received help and kindness from his friends and family.

"To not let fear or laziness get in the way," Kyle answered, when I asked if he has a personal mission statement.  This is so true.  When I think about the goals or accomplishments I've never pursued, the reasons for not achieving success simply boils down to fear. Either the fear of failure, or even the fear of success and all the work that comes with it.  One could argue that's also laziness, but at it's deepest root - I still find fear.  This is an excellent personal mission statement and I've been thinking of it since meeting Kyle, and have questioned myself throughout the week to put both fear and laziness in check.

"Still being alive," Kyle answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

 

Day 170 - Ryan

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This is Ryan. We met at a convenience store.

The happiest thing happening in his life right now is his job as an elevator mechanic, and his new Triumph motorcycle. Ryan told me a little about the program and requirements to be an Elevator Mechanic.  When school/training and apprenticeship hours are completed, an elevator mechanic will have over 10,000 hours of experience.  No wonder it's so rare to be caught in an elevator!

I asked Ryan if he's recently performed an act of kindness, or if he's been on the receiving end of kindness.  Ryan said that he's always trying to help others. He helps out his ex, even though they're no longer together, and he does little things to pay it forward like buying coffee for random people at coffee shops.  Ryan then said that his Mom wishes he would go to Church more often.  I laughed and explained that I could relate...it's what moms do!

"To live life to the fullest and treat other people the way I want to be treated," Ryan answered, when I asked if he has a personal mission statement.  I told Ryan that in spite of his Church attendance record, his Mom would be proud that he's living the golden rule.

When I asked Ryan something about himself which he considers to be a success, he said it's his mechanical, electrical, and welding background.  Ryan then added that a few years ago,  he was also ranked 47th in the country for AMA Flat Track Racing.

Thank you, Ryan!

 

Day 171 - Kassie

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This is Kassie.  We met at the bus stop.

"I made really great friends this year," Kassie answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

"To always be your best person so you can set an example for others," Kassie answered, when I asked if she has a personal mission statement or if she could make one up.  Kassie is going to school to become a therapist and I can tell she's going to be a great one!  When I confessed to Kassie how few hours of the day that I could actually say I'm being my best person, vs. how much I want to be/or am striving toward, she answered in a way that made it feel ok.  She made it seem like we get credit for the desire and our effort to be our best person, even if our progress is imperfect.

I asked Kassie something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she answered, "I'm very motivated."

Thank you, Kassie and good luck with school!

 

Day 172 - Mogwai

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This is Mogwai.  We also met at a bus stop.

The happiest thing happening in Mogwai's life right now, and something about herself which she would consider to be a success,  is that she's returned to school!

When I asked Mogwai if she's recently performed an act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of kindness, she explained that she's received quite a bit of kindness this past year.  Mogwai was basically homeless but thanks to the help of others, she's now back on her feet and has taking advantage of the opportunity to go back to school. In turn, she's starting a charity organization of her own so that she can help others who were in her situation.

The bus arrived before we finished.  Good luck, Mogwai!

 

Day 173 - Chris

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This is Chris.  It was friday night and I spotted him sitting in his car with the door open, eating carrots.  I initially walked past him and then found myself wondering why he was sitting in his car, eating carrots, on a Friday night.  Then of course that thought was followed by the thought, what am I'm doing, wandering around on a Friday night, looking for a person to take a picture of, when there's an interesting person right there?  So, I turned back and approached Chris to ask if I could take his picture for the project.

Chris was parked outside of Velo Cult and when I asked if he was waiting for someone, he explained that he was waiting for a show to start inside.

"This show tonight," Chris answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.   I learned that Chris is the Editor of Vortex Magazine, which is a magazine about the local Portland music scene.  The concert had been a secret show to which Vortext presented clues during the month to reveal the location.

When 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, he was sure he had done something but he was having trouble thinking of anything specific.  He asked if we could circle back.  A few moments later, Chris' friend/co-worker/photographer came out and Chris asked him if he could remember if he's done anything nice.  Chris' friend reached into Chris' little container o' carrots, stuffed one in his mouth and then said that Chris let him have some of his carrots!  Ha!  The two had been working hard and were loading in cases of magazines for the show and hadn't had time to eat.  Chris is a good guy...he doesn't let his friends/co-workers/photographers starve!

"I believe very strongly that collaboration will make all of us stronger," Chris answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could make one up.

When I asked Chris something about himself he would consider to be a success, Chris answered, "I feel like I'm good at bringing people together that share similar values."  I pointed out to Chris how perfectly this trait aligns with his personal mission statement.  Chris agreed, saying he also realized it too, after he answered.

When we were finished, Chris told me a little more about Vortex and gave me two issues.  Chris has created a dream-come-true job for himself. I told Chris I've been wanting for (or dreaming of) a new Portland magazine, and Chris has set out to do just that.  I can imagine all of the challenges he must face in giving birth to a new publication at a time when print is battling for survival, but he's making it happen!  Chris is using this time as an opportunity. He and everyone at Vortex are putting out a really good product and I can't wait to see how it evolves!  You can check out Vortex online, subscribe for whatever you feel like paying, or if you see Vortex when you're out - definitely pick up a copy!

I have such huge admiration for Chris and people like him...people who just make things happen.  Chris may have had a hard time thinking of an act of kindness but after reading his magazine, I realized Vortex is not only his passion, but in a way, it is also an act of kindness.  Chris is helping to promote and give exposure to local bands, venues, and the other businesses and services surrounding and supporting music.

Chris, wishing you and Vortex great success and I hope you're having fun creating it as well.

 

Day 174 - Shelby

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This is Shelby.  She is the daughter of one of my dearest and oldest friends.  I attended her Senior gymnastics meet on Saturday.  I can't even believe this little girl is graduating in just a few short months and I don't know how you parents do it.  It's so hard to let go.  It feels like just a few months ago when my friend announced she was having a baby and I can still remember rubbing my friend's little baby bump tummy when Shelby was just a bun in the oven.

It was difficult choosing the picture to share here.  We made  few that looked just like the adorable bright and sun-shiny little girl that I know and love, and then there was this one.  We were taking these pictures at night, in a little alley between two buildings, so the light and shadows were a little weird and challenging.  Although it was a tough decision, I deliberately chose this picture because she looked more like a young woman than a little girl, and she was split between shadow and light, and that's the kind of bittersweet conflict I was feeling knowing this was one of her final high school gymnastics meets.  Shelby has such a bright future ahead of her, but I was left wondering where all the time went.  I can't even imagine how her parents, or any parents, feel and cope knowing that part of being a parent is letting their child out into the world to go create a life for themselves.  It's both exciting and terrifying, both gratifying and sad.

The happiest thing happening in Shelby's life right now is that she's appreciating each moment that she has with her team.  I loved watching Shelby's team and the love and support they gave to one another.

When I asked Shelby if she's recently performed an act of kindness, she was having trouble remembering anything specific but I know this kid is one good-hearted kid and she's been doing volunteer work for years.  I helped remind her that we had just done a Project Brown Bag mission on Christmas, and then her mom added that Shelby volunteers to coach Special Abilities Gymnastics, she volunteered to be a Bell-Ringer for Salvation Army, and she often gives her teammates rides home.  Shelby questioned her mom, saying she didn't think that was really an act of kindness, but rather just something she should do to help her teammates.  Shelby's Mom laughed and said, "trust me, it's a big act of kindness for the girls' moms!"  I can also remember my friend would take Shelby and her brother to volunteer at a local homeless shelter when they were younger, and they also volunteered for Meals on Wheels.  Earlier this year, while on "vacation," they also went to one of the toughest parts of Oakland and worked with an outreach organization providing services to homeless people.  Shelby has been to some pretty tough places (with supervision) and seen people in difficult circumstances.  I think that her experiences have helped shape her to becoming the loving and compassionate person she's grown to be.

"Surround yourself with positive people," Shelby answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement.  Yes!  So glad Shelby has this figured out at her young age.

When I asked Shelby something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she answered, "Maintaining a 4.0 GPA and being a 3-sport varsity athlete."  Shelby is one amazing young woman.  She's smart, hard-working, compassionate, strong and beautiful.

Shelby, wishing you happiness in whatever you decide to do.  I love you, we're all so proud of you, and I'm so happy to have been a tiny part in your life.  Thank you.

 

Here's the summary of the personal mission statements and life's purposes of the subjects from this week.

  •  To do good in my life and be happy.
  • To not let fear or laziness get in the way.
  • To life life to the fullest and treat other people the way I war to be treated.
  • To always be your best person so you can set an example for others.
  • I believe very strongly that collaboration will make all of us stronger.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.

 

Thank you to each and every subject in this project.  I appreciate you and your willingness to share yourself with us.

Thank you for reading!

 

Have a  big week!

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 23

Hello! Thank you for checking out week 23 of the 365 More People Pictures project!

Day 154 - Jordan

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This is Jordan.  We met downtown, Portland.  It's a little strange, but I had been shooting the entire day for the street photography workshop, but I hadn't actually taken any pictures specifically for this project. (I'll tell you more about the workshop in a later, separate, post.)  Class had just finished, my head was ready to explode with excitement and information, and simultaneously, I was feeling both complete exhaustion and absolute elation. I had just spent the past 2.5 days with an amazing group of people, filling my head with new knowledge and inspiration, and basically felt like I had fallen in love...with photography.  I was just wandering Portland on a Sunday evening, trying to absorb and process everything I had just learned, and hoping I could also find one more person to photograph for this project.  And then I spotted Jordan!  Yes!

When I approached Jordan to ask if I could take his picture, he agreed and then he totally turned it on!  He was such an awesome ham!  I can just imagine that he and his friends must spend a lot of time taking pictures, because Jordan was more comfortable in front of a camera than anyone I've ever met.  He was so funny! I actually had to turn down his volume a bit, just to keep it believable!

I asked Jordan the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "I'm currently conceptualizing a dance party, called "Sway," to happen at the end of February.  Jordan is planning this huge event, in Baltimore, in addition to his responsibilities to his job.  He's got a full plate.

When I asked Jordan if he's either performed an act of kindness, or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, Jordan explained that he was just on the receiving end of kindness.  Jordan's Grandmother died recently and he unexpectedly had to miss work, and stay in his Grandmother's town.  Jordan's friend helped him in his absence, by paying for his storage unit rental.

Jordan's personal mission statement is actually in the form of a tattoo he has on his shoulder.  It was cold and raining, otherwise, I would have asked him if we could see it.  Jordan has a tattoo of an Egyptian Sky Disc, which has a banner of peace and three circles within a circle. The circles represent Art, Science, and Spirituality, and the unification of all three, and being of service to the world.   Jordan's job is actually in recruiting for an art school, so he's actually living his mission!

"I've had a lot of experiences that would lead a different kind of person to be more cynical or negative about life and people, but it's actually catalyzed a deep well of compassion and empathy," Jordan answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  It sounds like Jordan has gone through some difficult times in life, but instead of becoming hardened and calloused, his experiences have expanded his capacity for love and empathy.

Thank you, Jordan!  So glad to have met you!

 

Day 155 - Melanie

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This is Melanie.  We met at the bus stop.  Melanie and I were having fun taking pictures. She was patient with me and let me take several shots.  It's a good thing she was so patient with me.  Of all the photos we had taken, only one came out.

I ended up with a casualty at the photography workshop I had attended over the weekend...I dropped and broke a lens.  I was broken-hearted, not because it was an expensive lens, but because with Eric Kim's help, I was learning how to use it.  I became familiar with it, appreciated it, and actually sort of started to love that little sucker.  Of all the lenses to break, however, this would be the one.  It was the inexpensive kit lens that came with the camera.  One thing, one very big thing, I learned over the weekend was that it doesn't matter what you've got to work with, just do it and learn to do it 10 times better than you've ever done before. (Or do it 10 times better than anyone else has ever done. For now, I'm just learning to beat my own self.)   That little cheapie lens and I did things we had never done before. I discovered a new appreciation for it. So much so, that I was going to start using it regularly instead of the nicer, more expensive, lens that I have been using.  After some tinkering around, I determined that the only thing broken was the auto-focus motor.  No problem, I'd just focus manually from now on.  Melanie was my first subject after my decision to continue using the broken lens.  I was mistaken though.  More than just the auto-focus motor had been destroyed.  Even with focusing manually, it would still slip out of focus after I thought everything had been dialed in.   I'm so glad Melanie was having fun with our little photoshoot, because had she been unwilling to let me take so many pictures, I wouldn't have had anything to show you.

The downside of taking so many pictures is that we ran out of time!  The bus came before we were finished with the questions!  Melanie answered the two questions I was able to ask as she was boarding the bus.

"School," Melanie answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

When I asked Melanie something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she first said, "overcoming...", then she paused, and changed her answer to, "maintaining relationships with my friends."  I don't know what Melanie has overcome in her life, but I'm so very glad she came through to the other side, and that she has a great group of friends to celebrate with her.  She was a joy!

 

Day 156 - Mari

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This is Mari.  We also met at the bus stop.

The happiest thing happening in Mari's life right now is that she just got married this past year.  And yes, she confirmed that she and her husband are happily enjoying the honeymoon phase.

Mari works in social services. Her profession enables her to perform acts of kindness daily, for which, she feels quite rewarded.

"To be a good person," Mari answered, when I asked if she has a personal mission statement or life's purpose.

"I've gotten through some tough times this past 10 years," Mari answered, when I asked something about herself which she continues to be a success.  When we're in the thick of the bad stuff, it's so hard to believe that eventually we'll make it through to the other side.  But once we make it and can look back at all that we went through, we're amazed by the inner strength that we never even knew we had.

Mari, wishing you and your husband a lifetime of happiness!

 

Day 157 - Shane

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This is Shane, another person I met at the bus stop.  And, I'm really sorry...but I did it again.  We totally ran out of time.  We only had time for two questions before Shane's bus arrived.

"My 2 year old son," Shane answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

When I asked Shane something about himself which he considers to be a success, he answered, "my family."

Thank you, Shane!

 

Day 158 - Kimmie

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This is Kimmie.  I was having such a hard time finding a subject this day that I finally had to drive to the park & ride station, hoping for sure I'd be able to find a willing subject there.  It was pouring rain, and I had been rejected so many times that night.  I was almost ready to call it quits because the people who had declined me, did so in a not-very-nice way.  I was ready to halt the 365 project and go in a completely different direction, inspired by everything I had learned in the street photography workshop over the weekend.  Then I reminded myself that without fail, every time I've ever had a hard time finding a subject, I always end up meeting someone extra special.  Kimmie was that extra special person and I can't help but think it was meant to be.

"My sobriety," Kimmie answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

When I asked Kimmie if she's recently performed an act of kindness or if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, Kimmie explained that right now, she's on the receiving end.  Kimmie is new to recovery.  Addiction had taken her to the point where she had lost everything in her life.  Everything.  Some of the things/people needed to go but other things/people, she's working to reclaim.  A woman has taken Kimmie into her home and is helping to mentor her through recovery. Kimmie has been strong enough to know that she needs help.

I asked Kimmie if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose and Kimmie responded, "To be the best mother I can be. To be independent. To give my children the life I never had. To change the cycle so they don't have to struggle like I did."

When I asked Kimmie something about herself which she considered to be a success, Kimmie again answered, "my sobriety."

Kimmie and I then continued to talk while we waited for the bus to arrive.  It felt like we were meant to run into each other.  Kimmie admitted that she had been having a tough day and had potentially put herself at risk earlier, but she was able to maintain sobriety for another day.  I'm glad I was able to be an ear...Kimmie just really needed to be heard that night.

Keep up the good work, Kimmie.  I know you can do it.

 

Day 159 - Ryan

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This is Ryan.  We met walking down the street.

When I asked Ryan the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he said it was a tough question but decided that it was having a 3-day weekend.

I asked Ryan if he's recently performed an act of kindness, or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Ryan said he feels like he's always on the receiving end of kindness, but his job in employee benefits enables him to be on the giving end.  When people come to him, not understanding something, they're grateful when he can help explain things and clarify any confusion they have.

"To have as meaningful of life as possible, without having to work too hard for it," Ryan answered, when I asked if he has a personal mission statement or life's purpose. Ryan clarified that he doesn't, in any way, mean that in a lazy sort of way. Rather, we discussed the importance of actually living the life we work so hard for.

"Yesterday was my 13th anniversary working for the same employer," Ryan answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

Thank you, Ryan!

 

Day 160 - Zachary

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This is Zachary.

When I asked Zachary the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he answered, "being in a relationship with a woman I've loved for eleven years." The way Zachary answered, something about the tone in his voice, made me realize the relationship was new, but his love has obviously been long-lived.  I wondered if Zachary's lady hadn't known that he had loved her for so long. I explained my curiosity to Zachary, and he confirmed that the woman has always known he's loved her, but the timing has always been off. They've been the best of friends for the past 11 years, and they would sometimes go months without speaking with each other, but they would always pick right back up where they left off.  They've never had the chance to actually be with one another because they've always been with other people, or just in a friendship with each other.  Timing finally worked out, and now they're together.

Zachary said he likes to perform random acts of kindness, and one thing that is important for him is looking in and taking care of his brother.  I didn't ask details about Zachary's brother, but Zachary said that he tries to help him do basic things around the house. He said it doesn't feel like he's helping, but when he sees his brother's struggles, he realizes even just helping him around the house is helping is brother in a good way.

"Be better than you were yesterday," Zachary answered, when I asked if he has a personal mission statement or life's purpose.  Zachary explained that in the past, he's always had to have competitors or competition to motivate him to do better.  Then one day it dawned on him that he needs to stop worrying about being better than anyone else, or using competition as a motivator.  He decided he just wanted to be better than he was yesterday.

I asked Zachary one thing about himself which he considers to be a success, and he answered, "my education."

Thank you, Zachary!

 

Below is the summary of the personal mission statements and/or life's purposes of the subjects from this week:

  • Art, Science, and Spirituality, and the unification of all three, and being of service to the world.
  • To be a good person
  • To be the best mother I can be. To be independent. To give my children the life I never had. To change the cycle, so they don't have to struggle like I did.
  • To have as meaningful life as possible, without having to work too hard for it.
  • Be better than you were yesterday.

Thank you to every subject in this project.  I appreciate you!   And thank you for reading another week!

 

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 7

Hello! Week 7 is a wrap!

Day 42 - Teri

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This is Teri.  She was walking her dog at Esther Short Park when we met.  Teri quickly and happily agreed to let me take her picture and I should have realized then, it was because she's a photographer and she "gets it."

I learned that Teri has been a photographer since the age of 4!  She's a highly sought-after, fine art photographer from New York, and her specialty was nudes.  She recently moved to the Northwest to chase another dream of becoming a Park Ranger.  I enjoyed hearing about the the contrasts in Teri's life.  Teri moved from the east coast, big city, big art world, to pursue life on the laid-back left coast and to become a park ranger.  She said that being closer to nature has filled her with new inspiration and she now has an opportunity to concentrate on landscape/nature photography.

Teri and I made for such a funny pair.  You would think that we should have made for a great team, but I was busy being nervous about wanting to do justice to an accomplished artist, and Teri was busy being nervous about allowing herself to be in front of the camera instead of behind the viewfinder and in control of the process.  I found it so ironic that Teri has been up close and personal with nude subjects, but she's totally camera-shy when she's the one in front of the lens.  I can totally relate. Having my own picture taken is a miserable experience.   We finally both just had to let go and have fun with it!

I asked Teri the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she said that she just returned from a vacation on Maui.  The Maui trip was also the act of kindness Teri received, as it was a treat from a friend. As we were mid-interview, another woman approached us in the park and thanked Teri for the print she had just given her. The woman told Teri she had just hung it, and was remarking how much she loved it.  I interjected that not only had Teri been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, but it sounded like she had also just given an act of kindness as well.

"To live life to the fullest," Teri answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement.

I asked Teri something about herself which she considers to be a success and she answered, "being nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award."  Teri clarified that she didn't win, but still, having been nominated was still quite an honor.

Teri explained that her site isn't up-to-date, but you can check out her work here.

I feel fortunate to have met Teri and I enjoyed listening to her, and trying to learn from her.   She even extended an offer for me to consider her as a resource as I get deeper into the process, and perhaps someday host a pop-up show to thank all of the subjects in this project.  (Which is something I've been dreaming of, but I've just become overwhelmed at how to actually execute a showing or celebration party for subjects from the first 365 Day Project.)

Thank you, Teri.

 

Day 43 - Elliot

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This is Elliot.  He was near the Hollywood Theatre, waiting for his friend to arrive.

"School is starting, I'm very happy about that," Elliot answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Elliot if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he said that his mom recently gave him a nice set of knives.  I agreed this was an excellent gift because a good set of knives could possibly last his entire lifetime.

"Power to the people," Elliot said, is his personal mission statement.

When I asked Elliot something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "aside from the beard?"  Haha! Such a great answer!  He then circled back to his return to school and that he feels successful having finally figured out that he should be an English major.

 

Day 44 - Drew

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This is Drew.  I spotted him on the sidewalk.

"I got a new job," Drew said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Drew was just recently on the receiving end of an act of kindness, in that his friend gave him free tickets to a show.

Drew wasn't sure about a personal mission statement or a life's purpose, saying simply, "I'm just trying to get by."

I asked Drew something about himself which he considers to be a success and Drew answered, "graduating college."

Drew has a job in his field of study, so right now - it is a success when someone has a job and it's actually in the field for which they attended school!

 

Day 45 - Julie

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This is Julie.  She was waiting at the bus stop when we met.

I worked late on Wednesday and it was dark by time I left.  I was concerned because I'm now out of practice when it comes to  shooting in the dark.  Especially considering, I'm trying to learn how to shoot without a flash in low light and when it's dark.  It's NOT easy.  Until Julie, I don't think I've ever managed to take a nighttime/dark photo  that wasn't complete blurry or just horrible. Julie was great luck and she was patient with me as I tried both a flash and non-flash picture.

The happiest thing happening in Julie's life right now, is that she's working her dream job.  Julie is the owner of the Julie Lawrence Yoga Center.  Julie also feels this is something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  Julie followed her dreams of becoming a professional dancer, which lead her to her now dream-come-true situation of running a yoga studio.

I asked Julie if she had a personal mission statement and she explained she actually has a 5-part mission statement:

1 - "Experience and share love."

2 - "Seek out learning opportunities."

3 - "Be physically active."

4 - "Remember to laugh and play."

5 - ...

You know that feeling when your mind goes blank on you?  Well, that happened when Julie attempted to give the 5th part of her 5-part mission statement.  The bus was approaching us, we needed to hurry, so we just left it at 4.  Four excellent little nuggets for us to remember!

 

Day 46 - Becki

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This is my very dear, and very special friend, Rebecca.   Yes, she may look familiar to you from last year's project. It was almost exactly a year ago when Becki was a subject in the first 365 Day People Picture Project.  It's been fun to include my friends in the project and I try to take their picture when we get together for their birthday celebration.

"My family, my husband and my kids," Rebecca answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

I asked Becki if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and she replied, "Yes! Tonight...birthday gifts and an amazing dinner!"  We got together for dinner and laughs with the family and our other friends, Debbie and Lou.  When it came time to take Becki's picture, it was pitch dark outside and I couldn't even tell what these two were up to.  The sneaky little photobomber is our friend, Debbie.

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I asked Becki if she had a personal mission statement and she answered, "life's too short.  Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today because you might not be here."  Becki would know.  She barely survived what could have been a fatal car accident, shortly after we finished high school.  The crash, and her rehabilitation, were both life-changing and life-affirming for Becki.  Since then, she's become the most generous person I know when it comes to sharing love, laughter and happiness.

I asked Becki something about herself which she would consider to be a success. "My family, friends, and my volunteering," Rebecca answered.  Rebecca is always donating her time and efforts to one cause or another.  I'm completely awestruck with her life and how she makes time for work, family, volunteer work, and fun!  She'll be the first to tell you - she makes time for fun and she makes sure that we all make time for fun too!

Becki, I'm so glad you were born.  Happy Birthday, dear friend.

 

Day 47 - Sky

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This is Sky.   She was waiting at the bus stop when we met.

The bus would soon be approaching, so again, we had to keep things at a fast pace.  I quickly shot three pictures of Sky and then asked the interview questions.

"I'm really excited to go back to school," Sky answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

I asked if Sky has been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and she immediately replied, "yes, many times!"  But she explained she couldn't think of a specific example at that moment.  This is so common.  Several people seem to have a general sense and feeling that the world is kind to them, but usually the pressure of me asking for an example, makes it difficult for them to think of something specific.

"I'm all about my family, and I like to make my family happy," Sky answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or a life's purpose.

When I asked Sky something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she also circled back to starting school again.  Sky is only 20, but she already has 4 years of college under her belt!

I'm glad I bumped into Sky...brains, beauty, and a such lovely person to visit with.

 

Day 48 - Brian

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This is Brian.  We met at Esther Short Park.  When I approached Brian to take his picture, he agreed quickly, gave me a big smile, but then his expression changed and I couldn't get a read on what was happening.  Not wanting to keep him from anything, I asked if he was in a hurry.  He said that he had time.  The area is somewhat tourist-y, so I asked if he lives around here.  Brian then said that he's homeless.

Damit.  Damn.  Damit.

I've intentionally avoided asking people who are homeless if I could take their picture. The reasons are many, but basically, it is out of respect.  It is out of respect for their situation, and in wanting to preserve dignity.

I had already asked Brian if I could take his picture. It would have been more disrespectful and painful to abort, than it would be to move forward with the picture and interview.  And, from our very short interaction up until that point, I already got a good vibe from Brian.  I was already in.  I already cared.

Brian and I shared an intense and brutally-honest conversation.  The kind of conversation that is so intense, it's probably not even one that he's been able to have with his friends or family.

I hate addiction.  I hate that some people are born with different wiring.   I hate that some people are fortunate to have been born with a dimmer, but other people are born with an on-off switch.  For those people born with an on-off switch, there is no in-between.  There is no, let's turn-up-the-lights-just-a-little-and-have-a-cocktail-with-dinner setting.  There is only on, or off.  Once the switch is flipped and the person is exposed to a mind-altering substance, it's on all the way.  The hungry addiction receptors are fired up and begging to be stimulated and fed.  Once the switch is flipped, it's so easy for a person to abandon and lose everything they are, everything they were, and everything they hoped to become.  It's so easy to lose your footing when you're a person  born with a switch instead of  a dimmer.  Once you lose your balance on the tightrope of addiction, the fall may not be swift, but it is certain.  Once you've fallen off the tightrope completely, you don't even know, or care, that you're falling...as long as it feels good on the way down.

Not every person born with a switch instead of a dimmer,  falls to the point of homelessness.  Some are fighting the battle from the comfort of a warm and cozy home, but the battle is still life-destroying nonetheless.

Brian had a good life.  He was married.  He had a great job. He's soft-spoken and personable, and his intelligence is apparent in his articulate speech. Brian has just finished his time squaring-up with the law, and has intentions to go back to school.  He had intentions, that is, until he sabotaged himself.  Again.  Brian is feeling frustrated and disappointed with himself and he can't understand why he keeps repeating the cycle no matter how much he's ready to make the change for good.  He's so close.  I know he can flip the switch to off.

My canned interview questions seemed so ridiculous, given the circumstances.  I apologized to Brian.  I told him I was still going to ask the questions I normally ask, even though his situation is a difficult one. I explained the questions have been stealthily designed as an exercise in gratitude. (and inspiration and motivation as well.)    I hoped he would feel better and more optimistic when we were finished, but I knew there was a huge risk that the questions could result in him feeling more helpless and hopeless.

I asked Brian, if he could think of anything happy, in spite of his situation.  He shook his head, "no, nothing," Brian answered, as he appeared to hold back tears.  "Nothing?" I asked.  "No, this is pretty much the highlight of my day," Brian said.  "Well, we have that in common, because this is the highlight of my day too," I shared.  I pleaded with Brian to consider that every day he wakes up, every day that he's alive, is a reason to be happy.  "If you're alive, there's hope," I added.   Brian agreed, reluctantly at first, and then said "yes, I'm alive."

I asked Brian if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he said that a woman at a church gave him a really nice sweater/jacket,  and then he turned to show me the jacket on his backpack.

I asked Brian if he had a life's purpose, or a personal mission statement.  Brian answered,  "to not to fall back into drug addiction."  I wanted Brian to walk away from our interaction feeling filled with hope and having a plan.  I wanted to hear the words from Brian about his next step in life.   No matter who we are, or what our circumstances, the more we share our plans or intentions, the closer we become to making them a reality.  I wanted to hear Brian tell me that he was going to get back on the waiting list for treatment.  I wanted to hear Brian tell me his plans to get financial aid to return back to school.  I wanted to hear Brian say the words that he will find a living situation and get off the street.  It was important to hear Brain say all of those words and lay out all of those plans, because I wanted Brian to hear the words, and believe them.  I want Brian to be one step closer to making his plans become reality.  He's got them. He's got the plans and a foundation is built.  I pray Brian can be freed from a life of addiction and reclaim his life, or a new and better one.

I apologized to Brian for "mom-ing" him, and told him I believed he could do it.  I believed he could get himself together. Brian needed to hear that another person believes in him, so that maybe he'll believe in himself.  Brian knows where to get help, and how to get help.  I dream for the day in our country that when a person is ready to get clean, the resources are there for them to do so.  The free program here in the area often has a waiting list to get into the residential treatment facility, and by time a person gets to the top of the list, they may be back out using again.

After we finished, I asked Brian if he had food for the day.  He answered, "not really."  I told him I had some in my car, if he wanted to walk with me.  We talked while we walked.  Brian openly and honestly shared the Cliff's notes version of his life story with me, and now it was his turn to ask questions about mine.  He mainly wanted to know about the project, and why I was doing it.  "What's the objective?" Brian asked.   I, also giving the Cliff's notes version, explained that I just wanted to see if I could do something every day for a year.  I pointed out the similarity between doing a 365 day photography challenge, and being clean and sober.  I took one picture a day, and before I knew it, I had strung together an entire year's worth of pictures without any gaps.  Brian understood and confirmed..."just like being clean and sober...one day at a time, and before you know it, you've got a year."

We reached my car and I unlocked the trunk and gave him all I had.  He asked, "do you always drive around with sack lunches in your car?"  "Yes, I try to," I answered.  "They're for the people I may meet...who may be hungry."   We talked just a few moments longer, we both thanked one another, and I told him once more that I believed in him...hoping he'd feel it enough to believe in himself.

If you're the praying kind, could you say a prayer for Brian and anyone you know who struggles with addiction.  May they be free.

Here's the summary of the mission statements and life's purposes of the subjects from this week:

  • To live life to the fullest.
  • Power to the people.
  • I'm just trying to get by.
  • Experience and share love.
  • Seek out learning opportunities.
  • Be physically active.
  • Remember to laugh and play.
  • Life's too short.  Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today because you might not be here.
  • I'm all about my family, and I like to make my family happy.
  • To not fall back into drug addiction.  

Thank you to each and every subject from this week, and in the entire project.

Thank you again for following along.

Have a great week!

 

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 5

Hello! We're finished with week 5 of The 365 More People Pictures Project!  As I wrote that sentence, I couldn't help but chuckle at how poorly I named both this project, and last year's 365 Day People Picture Project.

I owe you a bit of an explanation, and I owe myself a little slack. Ok, a lot of slack.  Before starting the first project, I thought long enough about the idea of taking a picture of a person every day for a year, to allow it to become an obsession, and then a burning desire. Or maybe the burning desire came first, and obsession followed.  (I'd have to think about that, but that sort of chicken-egg-chicken debate is one which I'll never be able to really settle.)  I thought about it long enough to know I was going to do it, but not long enough to talk myself out of doing it, or to really consider the actual reality of how it would impact my daily life or schedule.  By not giving it enough consideration to discourage myself from doing the project, means I also hadn't given any real consideration to naming the project.  I shot out of the starting block with a "working title" and that's what stuck.

The 365 More People Pictures Project was named, or un-named, in exactly the same way.  Once the first hashtag is used, you're just sort of stuck with it.  So here we are, week 5 of The 365 More People Pictures Project.  If you ever decide to do your own 365 Day Project, I hope you'll come up with a brilliant name before you start.

 

Day 28 - Kari

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This is Kari.  She was walking the path along the Columbia River when we met.

The happiest thing happening in Kari's life right now, is that she's taking a month-long cruise from San Francisco to Sydney.

I asked Kari if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and at first, she couldn't think of anything because she's been somewhat isolated, recovering from a recent shoulder surgery.  After telling me about her surgery, she remembered that one of her friends helped her by taking her to her doctor appointments.

"I'm still trying to figure that out, that's why I'm traveling," Kari answered, when I asked her life's purpose.  Kari then when on to say, "what you think about, you bring about." Kari believes instead of focusing on what we're afraid of and "what ifs," we should have faith and focus on what we want.

I asked Kari something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she replied, "my whole life is a success. Everything I put my mind  to do, I keep at it till I get there."

I had a nice time hanging out with Kari for a little while longer and hearing some of her wisdom on everything from how to save money on travel, to getting what we want from life.  Kari and I day-dreamed for a moment about what it would be like live on a cruise ship rather than in an assisted living facility when we get old.

Bon Voyage, Kari!

 

Day 29 - Duffy and his Dogs

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This is Duffy and his dogs.  We met at Mt. Tabor Park.  The dogs pretty much look how I look after doing the stairs.

"Walking these guys," Duffy answered, is the happiest thing happening in his life.

I asked Duffy if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and Duffy explained that right now, it's time for him to be on the giving end.  It's been a heavy year of giving and caring for sick friends.

"To do your best every day, and to be honest and sincere," Duffy Answered, is his personal mission statement.

I asked Duffy something about himself which he would consider to be a success, and he answered that it would be his outgoing personality.

I love taking headshot-like portraits of people.  I didn't have a "style" when I started this project, but over time, I've definitely developed a personal preference and my favorite is taking headshot portraits.  You've probably noticed that I love to get up close and personal...so close that you can see the twinkle in a person's eyes, feel a person's sparkle, and even imagine the sound of their voice.  Portraits are my favorite.  I'm getting better.  I'm seeing improvement.  However, I'm pushing myself to do more.  I don't think there's anything wrong with developing a specialty and over time, you find your own style, but I'm so inexperienced and such a beginner, that I think it's important not to limit myself to just one thing right now.  The more we try in photography, and in life, the more likely we are to discover something we love, or something at which we may even be good.  At the very least, working outside your comfort zone strengthens and sharpens your skills in other areas.  When I take a picture of anything other than a headshot/portrait, such as this, it feels like I could do a better job with my iPhone than with a DSLR.  It just takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.

 

Day 30 - Robert and Collin

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This is Robert and Collin. We also met at Mt. Tabor.

"My girlfriend," Robert answered, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

"To enjoy myself as much as I can, without hurting others," Robert said, is his personal mission statement.

I asked Robert something about himself which he considers to be a success, and Robert answered, "I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college."  Robert paved the way, and now his Sister and other family members have followed his lead.

 

Day 31 - Raul

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This is Raul.

I asked Raul the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "my Daughters."

When I asked Raul if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, he answered, "all the time. I have good people around me."  The day prior, Raul's neighbor brought him dinner, completely out of the blue and unexpected.

"To bring good around me," Raul answered, is his personal mission statement.

I asked Raul one thing about himself which he considers to be a success and he answered, the "great community around me."

 

Day 32 - Anonymous Dog Walker and Anonymous Dog

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This is Anonymous Dog Walker and Anonymous Dog.  They were in a hurry, but they paused long enough for a quick picture and to answer a couple quick  questions.

"I just got married," answered the anonymous dog walker, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  I joked that he was in a hurry to get home to his new wife.

"To keep things positive," is the anonymous dog walker's personal mission statement.

 

Day 33 - Paige

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This is Paige.  We met at the bus stop.

"I'm going to a show with my girlfriend," Paige said, is the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

When I asked Paige if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, she said that the cashier at the grocery store was nice, and that everyone had been nice today.  We talked about how when we're feeling happy or nice, we seem to attract other nice and happy people.  I know, personally, an extremely friendly cashier can also lift my spirits and put me in a great mood when I've otherwise been stressed or preoccupied with something else.  Paige then took that friendly experience and passed it forward.  Paige had purchased a bunch of juice because it was on sale, and then proceeded to give some of her extra juice to a stranger, just because they needed it.

When I asked Paige if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one, she asked if she could share her Dad's instead.  Paige's dad had just recently told her that he thought he'd finally figured it all out and asked her if she wanted his philosophy of life.  He had written it down for her on a little note card.  I'm going to share with you Paige's Dad's Philosophy of Life, exactly as he wrote it down for her.   (Between Paige's recollection and my hastily written notes, we had changed things a bit.  After our interaction, Paige and I became Instagram friends and she shared her Dad's note, so I'm taking it straight from the photo of her Dad's Philosophy of Life.)

Find something to do that you love and learn to do it as well as you can.

Find a partner to share life with.

Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

Enjoy life!

 

Such great wisdom from Paige's Dad.  This project has taught me one unexpected skill, which is how to keep the tears from welling up and actually spilling onto my cheek."  Paige's Dad's words were so loving.  I had to fight to keep my tears hidden.  My heart was just so touched by Paige's Dad's love for her, and his obvious pursuit of the meaning of life.

 

Day 34 - Alicia

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This is Alicia.  She was packing up from having spent the day as an exhibitor at the Vancouver Peace and Justice Fair.

I asked Alicia the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she explained that she's soon going to get an apartment through the Share Aspire program, through the council for the homeless.  Alicia shared more about her circumstances, but rather than elaborate, I'd rather just be encouraging and supportive of the next chapter in Alicia's life and wish her the best of luck and success.

I asked Alicia if she had a personal mission statement and Alicia explained that her personal mission statement is the same as the mission of her business/organization, Casa De Las Palomas,  - "To promote peace, justice and well-being for all citizens, equally."

When I asked Alicia something about herself which she considers to be a success, she answered, "my business."

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The subjects from this week, with a guest appearance from a subject's dad, have shared the following wisdom with us:

  • What you think about, you bring about.
  • To do your best every day, and to be honest and sincere.
  • To enjoy myself as much as I can, without hurting others.
  • To bring good around me.
  • To keep things positive.
  • Find something to do that you love and learn to do it as well as you can.
  • Find a partner to share life with.
  • Leave the world a better place than you found it.
  • Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
  • Enjoy life. 
  • To promote peace, justice and well-being for all citizens, equally.

 

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Sincere appreciation to all of the subjects from this week, and throughout the entire project.  Thanks to you for following along.

Wishing you a happy and productive week!

365 More People Pictures - Week 4

Hello! This is the review of week 4, of The 365 More People Pictures Project.

I caught myself questioning the decision to do another entire year-long project of taking a picture of a person, every single day.  Again, I found myself full of self-doubt and fear that I'm not going to be able to do it, and wondering how in the world I managed to do it the first time around.  Looking ahead 365 days is entirely too much to comprehend right now, so I got through the week just focusing on one thing - I just need to take a picture of a person, today.  That's all.  Today.

 

Day 21 - Julie

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This is Julie.  We met at the Island Cafe. (Yes, we went back for a let's-pretend-we're-on-vacation dinner.)

Julie was with a big group of jovial friends from Minnesota.  I approached the group and asked if I could take a picture of one of them for my project.  Julie's friends all nominated her to be the subject because she's a photographer.

The happiest thing happening in Julie's life right now is the birth of her third grandchild.

I asked Julie if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and she gestured to one of her friends and said that he just bought dinner for their group.

"To leave a legacy of love & friendship & kindness," Julie said, is her personal legacy.

Julie said that being a Mom is one thing about herself which she considers to be a success.

 

Day 22 - Guy

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This is Guy.  He had just come off the lake when we met. He had been fishing from his Kayak.    Guy answered, "summertime," when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Guy if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he explained that he had recently lost his backpack when it fell from his kayak, and miraculously, someone was kind enough to turn it in and return it to him!

"Life is a journey, live on," Guy replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.

I asked Guy something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "I've traveled the world and had a good time."  Guy then listed off several countries to which he's been, and he's been to 48 states.  He has yet to visit North Dakota and Alaska.  Guy and I became Instagram friends and the day after I had taken his picture, I noticed he was flying off to his next journey.

 

Day 23 - Bob

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This is Bob. We met at Mt. Tabor.  Bob agreed to let me take his picture, but then I could tell he wasn't thrilled about it.  It was his niceness which won out over his reservations of having his picture taken.

"People are healthy in my family, " Bob said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Bob if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he said that a merchant did some extra repairs for him and didn't charge him for the work.

I asked Bob his life's purpose and he answered, "to help, and enjoy, my family and the people I encounter."  True to his purpose, Bob helped me with the project, even though he may have been a little camera-shy.  Thank you, Bob!

"Being involved with an enjoyable family," Bob answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

 

Day 24 - Johnny McMahon

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This is Johnny.   We met at Mt. Tabor.

"Skating with my bass player, Lindsey," Johnny answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  Mt. Tabor Park is closed to cars on Wednesdays so the park is filled with downhill longboard skaters.  Johnny is almost 53 and he was about to go skate with all of the "kids," he joked.  He was laughing at himself for putting on so much safety gear and wondering what the kids would think about his knee pads, elbow pads and helmet.  He pretty much padded everything that could be padded.  I told him they weren't going to laugh at him, they'd think he was cool for being an old man and still skating! (And, he's smart!)  He pointed out the board his friend and former bandmate, Lindsey, had given to him, which he had fitted with a custom foot brake.   Johnny was in a band with Lindsey in the 80's, called Avant Garde.  Johnny joked that the new brake was either going to be helpful or it could cause him to crash and he'd be propelled off his board and I may be the last person to have seen him alive.  I was nervous after he told me that and I was so tempted to stay to make sure he was safe!

I asked Johnny if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he explained that his friends on his radio show set up a website for him to raise money for a new set of choppers.  He's just a few donors away from meeting his goal to be able to get a brand new set of pearly-whites.  Check out Operation Iron Choppers

"I'm going to Heaven and I'm going to take as many of you bastards as possible," Johnny said, is his personal mission statement.  Johnny is such a character.  Yes, Johnny is just the way you imagined him to be from having just read that comment.  He's fun, loud, gruff-voiced and full of personality!

I asked Johnny something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he answered, "The Iron Show."  Johnny has an online radio program with a reach of over 250,000 listeners!   Here's a link to Johnny's Iron Show.

Wishing you luck, happiness and success, Johnny!

 

Day 25 - Joonie

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This is Joonie.  He was nice enough interrupt his run at Mt. Tabor in order to pause long enough for a picture.

The happiest thing happening in Joonie's life right now is that he's getting to enjoy the weather, play tennis, and run.

I asked Joonie if he's been on the recipient of an act of kindness and he couldn't think of a specific example but confirmed he's often on the receiving end of kindness and said, "people are good to me."

"Keep it simple, be happy," Joonie answered, when I asked if he could think of a personal mission statement.

I asked Joonie something about himself which he considers to be a success and he replied that he has, "self-supporting employment."

 

Day 26 - Morgan

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This is Morgan. We met at the Park and Ride bus station.

"Living here," Morgan answered, is the happiest thing happening in his life.  Morgan just moved here from Florida a few months ago.

I asked Morgan if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he explained that his new roommate here in Portland allowed him to stay rent-free for 3 months while Morgan settled in and found work.  Morgan is now working and will repay the back-rent, but this is a pretty amazing act of kindness from a complete stranger. Morgan's roommate wasn't a friend, she was just a random person he had met online!

"To be a better person than I was in Florida," Morgan answered, is his personal mission statement.  Morgan's move to Portland is a fresh start and I'm wishing him lots of success!

I asked Morgan something about himself which he considers to be a success and he shared that he's had a story published.  I asked Morgan if he wanted to share a link to the story with us here, but he was bashful and modest and said it was just a little small-town Florida publication.  He's optimistic the move to Portland will help him further his writing successes.

 

Day 27 - Jeff

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This is Jeff.  He was hanging out in the park along the Columbia River.

I asked Jeff about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "I'm happy every day with the free gift of life that God gave me!"

I asked Jeff if he had been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he said that his parents had just come to visit him here.

When I asked Jeff if he had a personal mission statement, he said he has a personal motto, "aim high!"  He has high expectations of himself with his school and family.

I asked Jeff something about himself which he considers to be a success and he answered that he's still working on it.  He wants to finish school, no matter how long it takes, and he wants to be successful in the future.  He has great ambition, but I was also want to hear from people something positive for the present, so I persisted.  Jeff then answered, "I'm raising two kids."

Wishing Jeff lots of success and happiness here!

Here's the summary of the personal mission statements and life's purpose of the subjects from this week:

  • To leave a legacy of love & friendship & kindness.
  • Life is a journey, live on.
  • To help, and enjoy, my family and the people I encounter.
  • I'm going to Heaven and I'm going to take as many of you bastards as possible.
  • Keep it simple, be happy.
  • To be a better person than I was in Florida.
  • Aim high.

Yes, I've been having a little fun with the InstaQuote app.  Here's a picture from my little journey to Wahkeena Falls + Multnomah Falls yesterday, and Guy's reminder to us that to journey, is to live.  Even if our  journey is only as far as our own back yard, opening our eyes and our hearts to the beauty around us is truly living.

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Thank you to each and every subject in this project and to you, for following along.

Have a great week and enjoy the journey!

 

365 More People Pictures - Week 3

Hello and thanks for stopping by to check out week 3 of the 365 More People Pictures Project.  If this is your first time checking in, this is my 2nd year-long challenge to myself in which I'm taking a picture of a person, every single day, for another entire year. I just completed my first 365 Day Challenge a few weeks ago, The 365 Day People Project. The experience was life changing. Taking pictures of people and sharing them with you has now become a big part of my life.  After finishing the first project, I decided I wasn't ready to give it up. I just had to keep going.  I'm not a photographer, I'm just a girl with a camera.  I'm starting to see improvement in the quality of the pictures I take, but more importantly, I feel like my little life is improving because of this project.  It is my hope that you'll be inspired by this project and the people who have shared themselves with us.  Most of all, I hope this makes you feel positive and happy.

Day 14 - Rob, Matt & Conway

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This is Rob (left), Conway (center), and Matt (right.)  They were hanging out along the Columbia River when we met.

I learned a good lesson from the very first photo of  last year's  365 Day People Picture Project.  The first photo in the project was of my husband and he was wearing sunglasses.  After seeing that first picture, I decided I would always ask people if they could remove their sunglasses so that we could see their eyes.  Although I did eventually ask Rob & Matt if we could take a picture without their glasses on, this picture was still my favorite.  I broke my own rule but it was for good reason.  The guys caught my eye because of their style.  A big part of that style was their carefully selected sunglasses.  And I confess...another factor is because it was so bright and sunny and I'm still not skilled enough to compensate for harsh sunlight when there isn't good shade close by.  Not only was I struggling, but it's also hard for people to not squint with the bright sun shining in their eyes.

I asked the men about the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and they both agreed that it's their future move to Downtown Portland.

I asked the two if they've recently been the recipient of an act of kindness.  Rob answered, "I always see kindness everywhere."  Matt said that someone had recently paid for his coffee at Starbucks.

"To spread knowledge and compassion throughout the world," Rob answered, is is personal mission statement.  Matt said that his personal mission statement is "to take care of the ones I love."

When I asked the men something about themselves which they consider to be a success, Matt answered that he feels like he's accomplished a lot in his life so far, and he's only 21 years old.  That's awesome!  I wouldn't have been able to say the same thing at 21.  Rob is in his ninth year teaching and he considers his longevity to be a success. People often pursue other things after teaching for just a few years.  Wishing Rob many more successful years sharing knowledge and compassion.

 

Day 15 - Scott

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This is Scott.  We met at Mt. Tabor.

I ask Scott about the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "I've got a 9 month old."  Scott's newborn is to credit for his new little family being on the receiving end of kindness.  Scott explained that their friends and family made meals for them when they returned home from the hospital.

"To be happy," Scott answered, is his life's purpose.

When I asked Scott something about himself which he considers to be a success, he replied, "I'm nice to people...most of the time."  We laughed and I agreed, understanding all too well that we're all a work-in-progress.

 

Day 16 - Shauna

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This is my friend, Shauna.  It's been a few months since we've been able to catch up but we finally got to do so on Tuesday.   She's been traveling the world, teaching The Blogcademy.  If you've been following along, you'll remember that Shauna is one of the main reasons why this blog, and this project, even exists.

I asked Shauna the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "that I'm getting ready to go to Palm Springs, for both work and fun...and that I have a baby squirrel!"  Yes, you read that right - she and her husband have rescued an orphaned squirrel.

I asked Shauna if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and she said that she receives kindness daily.  Her husband is the benefactor of the kindness she receives, in that he brings her coffee and breakfast every day!  (Coffee-making husbands are the greatest husbands in the world!)

You may remember Shauna was also in last year's 365 Day People Picture Project. Back then, I only had one "canned" question that I would ask each subject.  Since that time, I've started asking people about their personal mission statement.   I hadn't asked Shauna her personal mission statement when she was a subject last year, but after reading the mission statements of other subjects from this project, Shauna later decided that her personal mission statement is to "work hard, play hard."  I asked Shauna if she had a new personal mission statement and we laughed when she answered, "work harder, play harder!"

"Giving women the skills to run their own business," Shauna answered, when I asked what she would like her personal legacy to be.  Shauna first answered that she wants to share her design knowledge with other creatives, but as she considered the question, she changed her answer and explained that being able to help empower other women is really more of a legacy because it then takes on a life of it's own. It becomes something bigger.  Shauna and her partners in The Blogcademy are, indeed, leaving a legacy of inspired and empowered women.  When I think about Shauna, her partners, and all of their students and the work they're all doing, I think those women are creating more than just a ripple...they're all creating a tidal wave of goodness.

"Working full time for myself," Shauna said, is an accomplishment she didn't think she'd be able to achieve.   In my job, I get to see the works of hundreds of graphic designers.  Shauna is among the best graphic designers in the Northwest, and it's been awesome seeing her evolve and progress into owning her own design studio.

Shauna's picture from the first project was one of my favorites and I was optimistic I could do even better this time because I've made some improvements.  There was just one little problem...we were so busy visiting and laughing and catching up, that I almost forgot to take a picture!  By time I remembered, the sun had already set and it was dark.  I was looking forward to taking her picture during golden/magic hour, but I blew it.  We were so busy talking, I let the sunset totally pass and ended up having to use a flash. Even so, her picture is another one of my favorites.  Have you noticed that I'm starting to get more and more favorites?  (I'm improving!!!)

Thank you, Shauna, for being in this project and for being such a constant source of inspiration and a great friend.

 

Day 17 - Amy

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This is Amy.  We met walking down the sidewalk.  Amy was in a bit of a hurry to meet a friend but she still stopped and gave me the time to take her picture.  She was a pretty sweet person.

"My job is really good," Amy answered, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life.

"Trying to create as much happiness as possible in the world," Amy said, is her personal mission statement.

I asked Amy if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness.  "All the time," Amy answered.  Amy explained that her work is extremely collaborative and they all help one another.

I asked Amy what she would like her personal legacy to be and she answered, "I would like people to think, 'she wasn't a jerk.'"  I don't think Amy has to worry about that at all.  Within moments of meeting her, it felt like I was meeting someone very kind and sincere.

 

Day 18 - Kasey

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This is Kasey.  We met in downtown Vancouver.  It was "day zero" of the Kumoricon anime convention and the costumed attendees were just starting to arrive and check-in for the weekend-long event.

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For the past few years, I've somehow accidentally ended up at Ester Short Park during the Kumoricon event.  Before starting this project, I hardly ever made it to downtown Vancouver.  Now I go downtown quite frequently, in search of subjects.

This year, I intentionally planned to seek out a few subjects during Kumoricon.  In addition to getting to see all of the amazing CosPlayers, (people who dress up in costumes to portray anime/film/comic characters) CouvFest NW was also happening in the park so I was able to catch a few bands too!  That was a happy accident and now I'm looking forward to next year's CouveFest NW!

I asked Kasey the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she responded, "I am spiritually centered."

I asked Kasey if she's been the recipient of an act of kindness and she said that being able to be at Kumoricon was due to her mother's kindness.  Her mom helped pay for her hotel for the event.

"To figure out what life is about and to experience everything to the best of my abilities," Kasey answered, when I asked her life's purpose.

I asked Kasey something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she answered, "I'm happy with how my body looks."  Kasey explained that it took her a long time to be able to feel that way.

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Here's Kasey's full costume. She described her costume as "classic Lolita."

 

Day 19 - Fernie

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This is Fernie, and this is my first ever Troll portrait.

I headed back down to the park on Friday in order to catch glimpse of all of the Kumoricon Cosplayers and check out the bands playing at CouvFest NW. 

I asked Fernie the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she answered, "this Con."  Even as a complete outsider, you can't help but absorb the fun vibe down there.  I can appreciate Fernie's answer because even just hanging out and people-watching for a little while, I could tell the attendees were having a blast, forming new friendships and enjoying the the time they were spending with other like-minded people.

"I just really like making other people happy," Fernie said, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement.  Fernie answered the question with so much enthusiasm, it actually made me really happy!

Fernie feels like she experiences kindness every day - something as simple as a stranger giving her a smile can help make her day.

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"I'm really good on the sewing machine," Fernie said bashfully, when I asked her something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  Fernie packed three different costumes for the event, which he had sewn herself.  She pointed to a friend and told me she made his costume as well!   It's obvious that some of the cosplayers must spend days or weeks planning and making their costumes. It's a great sight to see!  I may have actually been inspired enough to dress up for Halloween!

Here's a picture I snapped at CouveFest NW - This band is  Lincoln's Beard.

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Day 30 - Rikyah

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This is Rikyah.  We met at CouvFest NW.  Yes...I went down for another day of people watching and music.

I asked Rikyah the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she answered with relief, "the kids are starting school!"

Rikyah's recent act of kindness is that she gave a homeless person all of the change she had in her entire purse, since she didn't have any cash.  Not having cash or change when she was approached by a different homeless person later, she then gave that person a winning lottery ticket.

"To be the best person that I can be - the best mom and friend," Rikyah answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement.  Rikyah's friend, who was waiting for us to finish the "interview," liked the question and wanted to share her own answer as well.  Rikyah's friend added, "find yourself and do it on purpose."

"My parenting," Rikyah said, is something about herself which she considers to be a success.

Rikyah's brand new hair color (which I love) totally matches her bright and happy personality!  Thank you, Rikyah, for letting me take  your picture!

Here are a few more pictures from Kumoricon and CouvFest NW.  The band shown here is The Sindicate.

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Band  - The Sindicate

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More Kumoricon CosPlayers - Guy Fawkes, "V is for Vendetta"

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SteamPunk Girls

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Weeping Angels - but they're not weeping, they're walking around having fun

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Syndra

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Here's the summary of the personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • To spread knowledge and compassion throughout the world,
  • To take care of the ones I love.
  • Trying to create as much happiness as possible in the world.
  • Work harder, play harder!
  • To figure out what life is about and to experience everything to the best of my abilities.
  • I just really like making other people happy.
  • To be the best person that I can be - the best mom and friend.
  • Find yourself and do it on purpose.

Thank you to the subjects from this week!  If you'd like a copy of your picture, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. I'd love for you to have it!

Have a great week!

365 Day People Picture Project - The Last Day

photo Hello!

This is it!  This was the last day of The 365 Day People Picture Project!

You don't even know where to start, when it's the end.  When it's the end, you don't even know where to start.  (Did you just catch that?)

I've been carrying around a heavy weight in my mind and the weight is getting heavier with each passing day.  I've been feeling a huge responsibility to close the project with a beautifully written, meaningful, insightful, and inspiring blog post that summarized my experiences this past year. The weight and the pressure has been so intense, I've reached my shut-down point.

So, we're just going to take things nice and slow.  This was a year-long project. It was an unreasonable expectation of myself to think that I could process everything mentally, write about it, and then share it with you in the span of just 6 days.  Plus, this gives us more time together and I've really enjoyed spending time with you. I'll continue to share more about what I learned from this project in future posts.  For now, meet our final subject.

Day 365, August 10th, 2014 - Halina and Baxter

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This is Halina and Baxter.  We met on a dock of McCuddy's Marina, near The Island Cafe.  A year prior, August 11, 2013, I took my first picture for The 365 Day People Picture Project.  I had no idea what I was doing, or about to do.  I only knew one thing - I challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year, and I was going to meet that challenge! I was determined to maintain a perfect year-long streak of taking a picture of a person, every day.  The project started at Island Cafe, where my husband and I met for a belated birthday dinner with his family.  My husband was the first subject.  I love that the project ended, right where it began.

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I asked Halina the happiest thing happening in her life right now, and she replied, "being single and being alive!"

A woman, who indulged in a very happy happy-hour, approached us as we were doing the "interview."  She visited with us and showered Baxter with lovins.

With the Happy Hour Woman still there, I asked Halina if she had recently performed an act of kindness.  Before Halina could give her answer, Happy Hour Woman made a declaration about Halina, "this lady is going to have a good future!"  We laughed and talked a moment longer and then Halina answered the question, "we do every day without even knowing it."

Halina was attempting to explain that we don't realize that the smallest, easiest thing we can do for another person is to share a little kindness.  We don't even realize that something as simple as sharing a smile with stranger, can have a significant impact, and at the very least, it is the start of a ripple of kindness.  It can be the difference between a bad day and a good one. It can be the difference of feeling helpless, or hopeful.  Even if we think we don't have anything to give, we can always give a smile. The Happy Hour Woman said good-bye and went on about her way.  Having 100% faith in Happy Hour Woman's prediction that Halina was going to have a good future, I whispered to her that she should always believe the prophesies of a drunk woman.

I asked Halina if she had a personal mission statement.  Halina answered, "to bring peace, and to be kind."  Halina said, "love is the greatest thing.  Love can heal."

I asked Halina something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  Halina answered, "my kids think that I'm a great mom, and I have a wonderful circle of friends."

We usually summarize the personal mission statements of each subject for the week, but since Halina had her own day, here's a summary of her wisdom:

  • To bring peace
  • To be Kind
  • Love is the greatest thing.
  • Love can heal.

...and just like that, it was over.  The 365 Day People Picture Project came to an end.  I had just taken the final picture for the project, and my friends were waiting for me in the restaurant.  I had a 2-second, silent celebration in my mind as I walked with Halina down the pier to join our respective friends.  Done.  Finished.  I did it.  Now what?

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Since the last photo in this project was taken in the same place as the first, I'll also end this project with the beginning.  Several subjects asked me why I was doing the project.  I was never able to articulate an answer, but rather gave a brief explanation of how it started.  I don't think I actually ever knew the true reason, and therefore, it was impossible for me to give an accurate answer. I'm still not sure I can answer why I did this.  How do we explain something which we're compelled to do?  How do we explain the place from where a compulsion or burning desire to create originates?

The explanation that I often gave was that I started a blog and quickly realized I needed visual content for the blog and needed to learn photography immediately.  I also realized that I live a completely un-blogworthy life.  Why would a person with an un-interesting life and no photography skills even start a blog?   The short answer - Nubby Twiglet.

I've been following my friend Shauna's blog, Nubby Twiglet, for several years.  I didn't even know what a blog was until our mutual friend turned me on to Nubby Twiglet.   I was able to see her evolution as a designer and blogger and it was all quite interesting and fascinating.  Although I enjoyed reading about her life,  never in a million years would I have imagined I would, or could, start a blog of my own.  As life would have it, we became friends and when you start to hang around determined people, you start to absorb their energy. She is dedicated and passionate and you can't help but pick up on her enthusiasm.  When she began telling me about her plans for The Blogcademy, in which she and two other blogger friends were going to teach blogging workshops all over the world, the seed was planted. A blog would be a perfect opportunity for me to get into the habit of writing, and some day achieve my dream of writing a book/screenplay.   After attending The Blogcademy and spending just two days with Shauna, Kat, Gala, and a room full of amazing and determined women - you leave there determined to do something, to create something. You believe that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Absorbing all of their amazing energy and determination didn't make up for the fact that I wasn't a photographer and I didn't have enough content to sustain a blog.  I stumbled through a few blog posts but knew right away that I had to create content or I needed to stop the blog.

At the same time this was happening, I was receiving subtle and unconscious influences from others around me.  I had an Instagram and Facebook friend, James, who frequently posted pictures of an anonymous woman he called Day Walker.  He's in artist in Kansas and we've never met, but I found myself fascinated by the Day Walker. I looked forward to seeing  pictures of the Day Walker, but I didn't realize how much of an impression James and his Day Walker were having on my mind.

Then one day, I took a picture of a stranger - a cute old man outside of a bar next to the tattoo shop where I was delivering an order of  T-shirts.   (You can read more about this on week 31.)  I kept thinking about the picture of the cute old man outside of the bar.

Between Shauna, James and his Day Walker, the random old man outside of the bar, and my secret love of photography, the idea for The 365 Day People Picture Project was born.  I mentioned the idea to a private Facebook group I was in at the time, and James shared a link to "Humans of New York," and encouraged me to go for it!  So, I did!

 

A Picture of a Picture - My Dad

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This is my Dad.  He passed away several years ago now, but sometimes it feels like it was just a few months ago.  My secret love of photography is because of him, this picture of him,  and pictures of many other people I love in my life.

When I was a kid, my Dad became involved with a family friend who had the idea to publish a book about Klamath Falls, the town where I'm from.  It was to be a series, and the best way I can describe the book is that it was like a yearbook, but for an entire community.  My Dad took several pictures for the book and I was usually tagging along with him. In my memory, it seems like for a while, that's all we did - we went around town taking pictures.  He set up a dark room and he let me "help" develop pictures.  By help, I mean that he had to keep me busy enough to keep me from ruining his pictures.  I'm sure my assigned task did nothing to actually help him, other than to keep me out of his way.  (We built a boat "together" in much the same fashion.)   Only one book ended up being published, but the experience of hanging out with my dad when he was shooting, shaped me more than I ever knew.

Looking back, I wish I would have continued on to take photography classes in High School.   I'm not sure why I didn't.

I don't know if other people's minds work in this same way, but it's how my brain works and it contributes to my love of photography.   This photograph of my Dad sat on our TV stand and even when my Dad was alive, this picture became him, and he became the picture.  I would see it so frequently - it became to be how I would envision him.  The same thing happened for many of the family pictures we had.  A person, to me, became  how I saw them in their photograph.

With people and your memories of them, it sometimes feels like the memories are so fast, and so blurry, and so overwhelming, that you can't even feel them because you can't keep up with the flood of remembered experiences crashing in on your mind.   For me, seeing a picture of a person, or remembering a particular picture of a person, has been a way of stopping the blur, pausing time - and letting me hold them still in my mind. It allows me the time to just think about them, and to love them.  It's as though all of the memories and feelings you have of a person, fall into an organized order behind a photograph so that you can sort through them one-by-one.

I want to learn how to take nice pictures of you so that when someone looks at your photograph, they can feel you. The picture becomes you, and you become the picture.  I want the picture to allow people the time just to think about you, and to love you.

Thank you, to each and every subject in this project.  You've showered me with so much kindness this past year, and it's been the happiest thing happening in my life.  You've touched my heart and you've changed me.  I started this with the intention to learn and improve my photography skills.  I don't know much about photography, but you've improved the state of my heart.  You've improved me.  My sincerest thanks for all that you've given to me.

If you've been a subject in this project and are interested in a copy of your picture, please don't hesitate to e-mail me!

Thank you for following along with me on this project.  Having you here alongside me, has helped me to keep going when I thought I should just give up.  You kept me accountable and I'm so happy you came along for the journey.

What's next?  365 More People Pictures!!!   I'll tell you more about that in the next post.

Thank you again for helping me to make this a reality!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 50

Hello, and thank you for checking in on week 50, of The 365 Day People Picture Project. If you're just checking in for the first time, I challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every single day, for an entire year.  When I started this project, a year seemed like so long that I couldn't even allow myself to imagine the end.  I could only focus on one day at a time, otherwise it seemed an impossible challenge.  Now that we're down to only two weeks left in the project, it seems like the past 50 weeks have flown by and I'm not ready for the project to end.

Let's just get down to business, shall we?

 

Day 344 - Jaisa & Anne

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This is Jaisa (left) and Anne (right).  Anne and I went to the same high school in Southern Oregon, and coincidentally, ended up moving and living within a few miles of each other in the Northwest! We had no idea we were even in the same town, but my co-worker's son played on the same sports team as Anne's sons, and one day they both connected the dots and realized they had a mutual acquaintance...me!

Jaisa and I were co-workers for several years.  Jaisa was 18, going on 28, when we started working together.

Anne has been a project-saver several times this past year.  There were several days, especially during the winter months, when I couldn't find a person, or it was just too stormy to go outside in search of a subject.  On those days, I'd meet up with Anne and her friends and find a subject at a bar/pub.  Were it not for Anne, I'm sure there were days I would have just thrown in the towel!

It was Anne's birthday and I wanted to finally get her picture for the project.  Jaisa had politely brushed me off the other times I'd asked  her, so this day - I finally got them both!

I asked them both the same questions as always, and amazingly, it was quite the therapeutic session for us all.  One that resulted in laughter, tears and hugs.  Not only has this project enabled me to connect with complete strangers, but it even aided in reconnecting with old friends!

"My son and his happiness, and his success and well-being," Jaisa said, is the happiest thing happening in her life right now.  Jaisa is always at the same level - you can't find a more even-tempered person than she.  However, when it comes to her son, her emotions are pure, raw, and intense. Her love for him has been evident since the day I first met her, some 19 years ago.

"My Birthday, surrounded by friends and family, and the boys are doing great," Anne said, is the happiest thing happening in her life right now.  Anne's sons are now both in college and their success gives her joy.  Anne was a star athlete when we were in high school, and her sons take after their mama in that respect!

I asked Anne and Jaisa if they had recently performed an act of kindness.  I was sort of shocked at how much of an impact this question had on them both.  Anne and Jaisa were rather distressed that they couldn't think of an act of kindness.  Jaisa, at one point, said, "I really have to think about this, it's serious to me."  After much consideration, Jaisa responded, "I opened up my home for a friend's wedding reception."  Jaisa was beating herself up that she couldn't think of anything else, but hosting a wedding reception at your house is a huge undertaking and a huge act of kindness.  Anne responded, "I'm always nice to people."  Anne works from home, so other than her cat and her roommate, she doesn't get to interact with people throughout the day, so the opportunities to perform a physical act of kindness, are fewer for her.   When Anne gave her answer, I realized that I have never, ever, heard her say an un-kind word about anyone, and she is always extremely friendly and nice.  Both Anne and Jaisa have devoted the past several years of their lives to raising their sons to be nice young men.  Raising nice young men and sending them out into the world, is an act of kindness for us all.

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I asked them both if they had a personal mission statement, or could define their life's purpose.  Jaisa responded, "to be successful and to be a provider for my son's future."  Jaisa went on to say that her life exists for her child and her husband.  Even though her son is now a grown adult and on his own path in life, she still continues to plan for his future, and she wants to be able to leave him with a sense of security.

"To find my future, to find my happy, " Anne said, is her life's purpose.  Anne's focus has been on raising her sons, and on her son's happiness. Now that they're on their own path, she realizes it's time for her to find her own happiness.  She's going to allow herself to be open to possibilities.  "I want to be in a loving relationship," Anne said.

I asked Jaisa and Anne something about themselves which they would consider to be a success.  Jaisa said, "my marriage and my son.  I have the most amazing husband and the most amazing son."  I pushed my friend for even more, and she replied, "I made it through the school of hard knocks."  Jaisa has pushed herself and survived a less-than-ideal childhood, and has gone on to become one fine woman.  She carries herself with confidence and class.  Anne's answer; "my boys - hands down.  They are happy, successful, well-liked people,"  Anne loves it when she hears people saying positive things about her sons, not even knowing that she's their mother.

Thank you, beautiful ladies, for being in this project!

 

Day 345 - Dave

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This is Dave.  He was parked right behind me and we were getting into our cars at the same time.  I took the opportunity to ask him to be in the project.

"I just got married," Dave said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Dave if he had recently performed an act of kindness.  "Nothing's coming to mind," Dave said.  I reminded him that it was an act of kindness that he let me take his picture.

"Never settle for the mediocre," Dave said, is his personal mission statement.

I asked Dave something about himself he would consider to be a success.  Dave responded, "I'm a great foosball player."  I laughed and told Dave that had he answered air hockey, then I would have challenged him to a game.

 

Day 346 - Pete, Nathan and Grace

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This is Pete (left), Nathan (center), and Grace (right.)  We met in the crosswalk as I was walking around, looking for a subject.  Knowing there are only a few days left, I pushed myself to take a group photo.  If you've been following along, you know how intimidated I am by group photos.  Ok, so I was secretly hoping one or two of the group would push one person into being the subject of the day, but all three agreed to let me take their picture, so I just had to make it work.

My new lens, a 50mm prime,  is so superior to the kit lenses I've been using.  Its superiority and performance actually bring with it even more challenges than before.  It's so powerful, on auto or any of the scene modes, it beautifully blurs the background. This is desired for a portrait, but not in a group photo.  If not set correctly, a group photo taken with the new lens will result in the person who is closest being in focus, but everyone else will be blurred.  The day before meeting these three, I had attended a very beginner photography class and the main take-away from the class, was that I need to push myself. (Yes, I know - pretty ridiculous that I finally took a photography class just days before the project ends.)  I need to stop being scared and intimidated and just experiment.  Having gained a little confidence from the class and knowing the challenges I was facing with the group and the lens, I was able to properly change settings and get a picture.  Yes, composition was lacking, but I was happy to get three people, in the frame, and have them each be in focus.  I chose this picture in particular, because Grace's genuine look of happiness on her face, makes me feel happy.  I don't think you can look at these three and not feel happiness and fun!

I asked them each the happiest thing happening in their lives right now.  Pete responded, "just everything in general.  I'm feeling less anxious."  Nathan, an artist, answered, "just painting."  Grace said, "I just moved into a new apartment."  Grace is happy she now has her own room!

I asked Pete something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  "work, my career," Pete answered.

I asked Nathan if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  "focus on art, keep doing art, never stop doing art," Nathan responded.

I asked Grace if she had recently performed an act of kindness.  Her recent act of kindness is that she gave a gift of a drawing she had made, to a person she didn't even know very well.  She also returned her roommate's act of kindness by making him a cup of tea.

 

Day 347 - Samir Gonzales

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This is Samir Gonzales.

I asked Samir the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "that it's summer!"

Samir's recent act of kindness is that when he spotted someone breaking into a car in the parking lot, he got the license plate number of the suspects and called the police.  The police were able to apprehend the suspects a few blocks away!

I asked Samir if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot. Samir responded, "stay happy."

"I've gone through a lot of hard stuff this year and I've gotten through it," Samir responded, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

 

Update on the Person from Day 2 - Trenton

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This is Trenton.  He was day #2 in this project!! We just happened to run into each other!

After I had finished taking Samir's picture and as I was walking back to my car, I spotted a familiar looking person.  As we crossed each other in the crosswalk, I asked, "hey, what's your name?"  He responded back, "you took my picture!"  We stopped to visit and I couldn't help but notice the beautiful baby in his arms.  I asked Trenton if he had his baby when I had taken his picture.  Trenton said that he learned he was going to be a father right after he had been in the project.  It's been less than a year, but Trenton went from being a young man, to being a man and father.  It was awesome seeing him and his new little one, and I was struck at that moment, just how much things have changed this past year. Changed, yet, the same.  What a cool experience this has been!

Fatherhood looks great on Trenton, and I know he's an excellent Dad.

My husband was day #1 in this project, so Trenton was the first stranger I approached to ask if I could take their picture. Having had such a positive experience with Trenton, set me up with the confidence to carry on.  Trenton was nice and seemed interested in the project. Had I been rejected on the first attempt with a stranger, it's possible I may have bailed on this project before I even really got started.

 

Day 348 - Tamela

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This is Tamela.  Tami is my friend's friend, but that makes her my friend too! We met up at Ecotrust's Sundown Concert Series, to see The Builders and the Butchers. The Builders and the Butchers put on another awesome show!

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It's been close to 5 years since I've seen Tami.   It's sort of ironic that we re-connected at a concert together.  Tami is the the whole reason I discovered that I love attending shows/concerts by myself.  Years ago, when I couldn't find anyone who could go to a Lucero show with me, our mutual friend suggested I go alone.  She told me, "just go by yourself, Tami does all the time!"  What?  It's possible for a woman to go to a concert in Downtown Portland, all by her self!?!  I thought sure, Tami could to it.  Tami is Tami.  She oozes confidence and she's a totally uninhibited free spirit.  But, I didn't think attending a show alone was something I could ever consider myself doing.  My love for Lucero out-weighed my personal insecurities and I went to the show alone.  I haven't stopped since!  I've reached the point now, where I prefer going to shows solo.   I'm free to get lost in the music and the moment, without having to be responsible for making sure someone else is having a good time.  I will always be indebted to Tamela for showing me that it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to go out in this world and have fun all by herself!  It's ok to be a lone wolf.

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I asked Tamela the happiest thing happening in her life and she first responded, "I love this question! I ask people this question all the time!"  Tami then answered, "my family is my happiest thing; my husband and my dog."

When I asked Tami if she had recently performed an act of kindness, she explained that she's intentionally tried to perform at least 1 act of kindness a day.  Most recently, she paid the toll for someone behind her.

"Spread love, hope, and the possibility that you can have anything you want," Tamela responded, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on-the-spot.  Tami is the type of person who forges her own path in life.  She's always had an entrepreneurial spirt.  She's never let fear of the unknown, or fear of failure, prevent her from doing what she wants.  If she has a business idea, she goes for it!  If she decides things aren't what she wants, she simply changes course.

I asked Tamela something about herself which she considers to be a success.  Tamela replied, "my ability to activate and motivate myself and others... I'm an activator!"  Tamela is a Take Shape for Life coach and she's enjoying the success of her clients and wants to help as many people as possible.

Thank you, Tamela for being in this project!

 

Day 349 - Dustin

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This is Dustin. I just spotted him when I was walking down the street, in search of a subject.

"A new baby," Dustin answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Dustin works for a coffee company and his recent act of kindness is that he left two bags of coffee on the porch of his new neighbors!  A neighbor who brings you coffee is pretty much the best neighbor in the world.

"Laughter is the key to life," Dustin said, is his personal mission statement.

I asked Dustin something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "finding my wife."

 

Day 350 - Mary

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This is Mary.  We met at the 3 Days of Aloha, Hawaiian Festival.

I asked Mary the happiest thing happening in her life right now, and she didn't say a word...she just moved her hands to her tummy, rubbed it, and then the source her beautiful glow became totally obvious to me.  Mary is expecting another baby!

Mary's recent act of kindness is that she added more time to a stranger's parking meter.  She also feels like she's been on the receiving end of other people's kindness because she's received so many gifts.

"Love, loving people," Mary said, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or could think of one on the spot.  Mary's mission statement is influenced by her practice as a Yoga Teacher.

I asked Mary something about herself which she would consider to be a success. Mary said that her daughter is a success, but also that she had gone through some challenges but she was able to remain true to herself.  She didn't let the challenges change her.  "I'm still me."

Best wishes to you and your growing family, Mary!

Here's a summary of the personal mission statements and life's purpose of the subjects from this week:

  • To be successful and to be a provider for my son's future
  • To find my future, to find my happy.
  • Never settle for the mediocre.
  • Focus on art, keep doing art, never stop doing art.
  • Stay happy.
  • Spread love, hope, and the possibility that you can have anything you want
  • Laughter is the key to life.
  • Love, loving people.

Thank you to each and every subject in this project!  This wouldn't exist without your willingness to share a little bit of yourself with us.  Thank you!  Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like for me to e-mail your picture to you.

Thank you for following along with me on this project.  Your interest and encouragement helped to carry me along when I questioned myself for even starting such an undertaking!

Have a great week!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 49

Hello, and thank you for checking in on week 49 of The 365 Day People Picture Project.  Can you believe we only have 3 weeks left? I get teary-eyed when I think about the project ending. I know it seems silly, but I can't help it.  The tears seem to come from someplace where I don't have the ability to turn off the spigot. Again, it is very much like a marathon.  I don't know what it is, but tears just happen and they seem to happen anywhere from around mile 21, all the way through the finish line.

I have a very athletic, manly-man friend who's completed a few marathons and right before my first, he prepared me that there will be waterworks.  He told me he cried like a little baby as he was finishing his first marathon!  It's just such a labor of love, and you give so much of yourself...the tears just happen.  Given my manly-man friend cried, I figured it was ok when I cried too.  These project-is-ending tears must be coming from that same well from which the marathon tears flow.  The end is in sight.  I want to finish strong.  Although every cell in my body wants to cross that finish line, I also don't want this feeling to end.

 

Day 337 - Jami, my Sister

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I made another quick trip home to Southern Oregon last weekend and after two, back-to-back, trips home, I've realized I need to make the trip more often.  Weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, and it's been years since I had last seen my Sister.

I asked Jami the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "seeing you."  We laughed and I persisted because I wanted to learn the real scoop.  Jami then said, "the success of my children."

I asked Jami if she had recently performed an act of kindness and she jokingly responded, "I'm ornerier than heck!"  Again we laughed.  Jami said that she lets people go in front of her at the grocery store, and that she let elders go in front of her in the food line at a gathering we had just attended the day before.

I asked Jami if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot, and she replied, "to have empathy for others, and to grow on a daily basis."  Jami went on to say that she's trying to look beyond herself, in attempt to see the perspective of others.

"I never give up," Jami said, is something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  She then questioned her answer, saying she's not sure if that's good or bad.  Jami and I share that trait and I understand it can be both a blessing and a curse.

Technically, Jami is my half-sister and she lived in California when I was growing up.  I can recall two specific pictures which sparked my fascination with photography, before I even knew I had one.  One of the those photographs was of Jami.  I think the picture must have been taken by my Dad, or one of my Brothers.  Jami had the most perfect 70's hair - long with a center-part.  I looked at that picture often since I didn't have Jami close in proximity.  I looked at that picture so often, my memory of how Jami looked was replaced by my memory of how she looked in that picture.  The photograph became Jami, and Jami became the photograph.  It's difficult to explain, but maybe you understand exactly what I'm talking about.  Before the project ends, I'll share with you the other picture which piqued my interest in photography.

Jami - I love you, and thank you for being in the project!

 

Day 338 - Isis Estela 

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This is Isis.  We met just walking down the street.  I asked Isis the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "just moving here."  Isis is new to Portland, having just arrived from Seattle.

I asked Isis if she had recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she's editing a book for a friend.  Wow!  That's quite a laborious act of kindness and I'm sure her friend must be grateful!  You can read some of Isis' writing on her blog.  

"Love, laugh, learn, live," Isis replied, is her personal mission statement.

I asked Isis one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success and she replied, "my life up until now."

Wishing Isis lots of luck and happiness in Portland!

 

Day 339 - Kaely & Jake

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This is Kaely & Jake.  They were waiting for a friend to arrive at Mt. Tabor park.

I asked Kaely the happiest thing happening in her life right now and after much consideration, she replied, "the summer and the sunshine!"  I'm noticing when people answer, "summer", it's like a catch-all for all of the events, activities, happiness and good times we  have during the summer months.

The most recent act of kindness which Kaely could recall performing, was that she held the door open for a person who had their hands full.

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I asked Kaely if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot. Kaely explained that while on a recent hike with friends, they spent time defining their personal mission statement and life's purpose.  Kaely answered, "to tread lightly, make the most of every day, and to make things easier for others."

One thing about herself which Kaely would consider to be a success, is her involvement with the Forest Grove Farmers Market.  Kaely manages the market and she's enjoyed seeing it evolve from a small farmers market, into a large community event.

 

Day 340 - Andrew

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This is Andrew.  We met outside of Velo Cult as I was walking by in search of a subject.

"Cooking and moving to Portland," Andrew said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  Andrew is a chef, in town from Austin,  and he'll soon be moving to Portland.  While in town, he staged ("tried out") as a chef at one of Portland's most popular restaurants.  He knows he won't be working there as they're at capacity, but he's optimistic he met a few excellent connections and his networking will result in a job soon!

I asked Andrew if he had recently performed an act of kindness.  Andrew said that he was an Eagle Scout and they're to "do a good turn daily."  Andrew's most recent act of kindness is that he complimented a man on his bike, and then struck up a conversation with the stranger.  They ended up having a lengthy conversation.  Andrew is quite personable and friendly, so I can imagine he maintains the "do a good turn daily" code, simply by being himself.

"Go with motivated people," Andrew replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.  This is such good advice!  When you surround yourself with people who make things happen, you can't help but to absorb some of their energy and you'll soon find that you're also making things happen for yourself!

I asked Andrew one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success.  He replied, "my knives are sharp."  Ha!  I don't know much about cooking, but I do know that a good chef takes care of his knives as they're critical tools for their trade.  Andrew said he had the sharpest knives at the tryouts!

Wishing you luck and success, Andrew!

 

Day 341 - Carl and Max

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This is Carl (left) and Max (right.)  They were just finishing up their job canvasing outside the library.  I was still smiling hours after meeting these two!

I asked the two the happiest thing happening in their lives right now.  Carl answered, "hanging out with this other free spirit I met recently."   Max explained that although he's currently between employment, he's taking it as a blessing and as an opportunity to find something he really wants to do.  I love Max's optimism and that he's finding a silver lining, even in a difficult time.  I have no doubt he'll soon find the perfect job!

I asked the guys if they had recently performed an act of kindness.  Carl replied, "I gave a homeless person change today."  Carl then explained that he's generally a nice person.  He smiles at people and tells them he loves them.  Max said, "I've been a much better son to my Mother."  After talking with the guys a while, and answering their questions about this project, Carl said, "I love you for doing this."  Carl genuinely loves people.  When he said he tells people he loves them, he wasn't just talking about friends and family. I have no doubt that he tells complete strangers that he loves them, because I experienced it!  Part of this project, for me, has been about rediscovering love for people and restoring my faith in people.  I'm not quite as evolved as Carl yet, so in response to his statement, I said, "I love the interaction we're having."

I asked the two if they had a personal mission statement, or if they could define their life's purpose.  Carl responded, "to be the most wonderful, loving father in the world."  Max replied, "whether I fail or succeed, I'd like to make a positive difference in the world."

When I asked something about themselves they would consider to be a success, Carl responded, "I broke my family's cycle of abuse."  Max answered, "that I've made it to age 20 without being a very rude and angry person."

I almost didn't approach Carl and Max because there were two of them. You know how I struggle with group pictures - even when it's just a group of two.  I'm so glad I set aside my apprehension and approached these two!  We pass by so many strangers on any given day, but if we only stopped to interact with some of those friends we haven't met yet, we might just find they will change our lives. Or, perhaps we will change theirs.  At the very least, we can start a little ripple of happiness.

 

Day 342 - Reanna

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This is Reanna.  She was waiting for the bus when we met.

"I'm a Mom of a 2 year old," Reanna answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

When I asked Reanna if she had recently performed an act of kindness, she said that she does little things all the time but she was having trouble thinking of an answer.  Then it hit her, "I bought a friend a milkshake!"

"Being the best that I can be, not just for myself, but for my Son," Reanna answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or could define her life's purpose.  Reanna then clarified that everything she does, is for her Son.

"I'm a good Mom, and the fact that I can see the glass is half-full," Reanna answered, when I asked something about herself which she would consider to be a success.

 

Day 343 - Ralph

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This is Ralph.  He was passing time at the park along the Columbia River, while he was waiting to meet a blind date at a restaurant down the way.

When I asked Ralph the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he joked that maybe it was about to happen!  He then went on to say that his Dad gave him a musical education when he was younger and it still brings him happiness.  He had just played the night before.

I asked Ralph if he had recently performed an act of kindness. Ralph's profession gives him the opportunity to give kindness.  He helps people to feel better. He performs body work, massage, and acupuncture.

"Help deserving people," Ralph answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.

"I've retained my inner child," Ralph answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  Ralph's date is in for a fun evening with this young-at-heart man!

Ralph was so nice and personable, I'm confident his date was a success. At least on his part!  I got a chuckle after leaving Ralph, thinking that if any awkward silence happened during the date, maybe Ralph could fill it by telling his date how he had just been photographed and interviewed by a complete stranger in the park.

I turned a corner with Ralph.  This is one of my favorite pictures.  Well, I guess we'll see if I've truly turned that corner or if I was just lucky with Ralph.  I got a new lens, and finally forced myself out of my comfort zone and changed some camera settings. It's been so intimidating to experiment with camera settings during this project. For one, I simply don't know what I'm doing.  Secondly, I'm usually under intense time pressures to get in, get a picture, and get out.  People don't have all day for me to figure out my camera, or I've had to race to get a picture before their bus arrived.  I also can't afford to fail.  I had to get a shot, every single day! All of this pressure and lack of knowledge and practice, caused me to get quite complacent where I was and prevented me from trying to improve.  I've been reading and studying so much, it was time I finally implemented some of what I've been learning.  I'm pleased with the result and I'm so excited to finish out these next few weeks. I had a little more time with Ralph than I have with most people, but I'm going to continue to push to see if I can get some marked improvement these last three weeks.

Here's a summary of the life's purpose and/or personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • To have empathy for others, and to grow on a daily basis.
  • Love, laugh, learn, live.
  • To tread lightly, make the most of every day, and to make things easier for others.
  • Go with motivated people.
  • To be the most wonderful, loving father in the world.
  • Whether I fail or succeed, I'd like to make a positive difference in the world.
  • Being the best that I can be, not just for myself, but for my Son.
  • Help deserving people.

Thank you to all of the subjects in this project!  Thank you for your kindness in letting me take your picture, and for sharing a little of yourself with us.

Thank you for following along another week!  Do you have any ideas for me? What would you like to see next? I welcome your input and would love to hear any ideas you may have for the next 365 days!

Wishing you an awesome week!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 48

Hello! Week 48 of The 365 Day People Picture Project is now finished. Only 4 more weeks to go!

I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do after the project is over. I'm hooked and not ready to give it up! I just want to improve and do it better next time.

Did you get to check in on Hana's first week of her 365 People project?  Hana inspired me so much in her first week!  Feeling inspired by Hana, I even changed up my "style" on a few of the photos from this week.

 

Day 330 - Tom

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This is Tom.

I asked Tom the happiest thing happening in his life right now and Tom replied, "being a Christian and watching trains."  I met Tom down near the Columbia River.  He likes spending time there to watch the trains on the nearby track, and watch the planes landing and departing from the airport, which is just a little east of there.  I hadn't thought of it before, but Tom made me realize that from that particular spot on the river, one could get their fill of train-watching, plane-watching, boat-watching, bird-watching, people-watching, and even sunset-watching!

"I drive a bus for the church," Tom answered, when I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness.

I asked Tom if he had a personal mission statement or if he could define his life's purpose.  Tom said that being a Christian, his life's purpose is "living for the Lord."

"I love music," Tom answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  Tom sings baritone.

 

Day 331 - Devaun

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This is Devaun.  We met at Mt. Tabor Park.  I had just finished my walk and Devaun was mid-workout/run, but he paused long enough to let me take his picture.

"Knowing who I am," Devaun said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Devaun if he had recently performed an act of kindness and he explained that he frequently gives people money.  He feels compelled to give money to the homeless people he meets on the street.

I asked Devaun if he had a personal mission statement or if he could define his life's purpose.   Devaun's initial response to the question was "to find who we are and what we're here for."

This opened up a conversation with Devaun in which we talked about how we can sometimes be distracted by so many things that we lose sight of our true purpose for being, and we lose sight of spirituality.   Devaun pointed out that we can get lost in our materialistic pursuits.  At one point, Devaun apologized and said he didn't want to scare me off by what he was saying.  I assured Devaun that I love conversations such as the one we found ourselves in, and again, I was struck that Devaun and I were complete strangers but within moments, we were sharing an honest and meaningful conversation.   It was clear to me that Devaun is a thinker and he's given serious consideration to life and humanity.

Devaun and I worked to see if we could expand on his mission statement from the conversation we were having.  We decided on:  "to be focused on finding your life's purpose and connecting with your spiritual side."

I asked Devaun something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "helping people and and making people happy." Devaun's job as a personal trainer enables him to do both.

 

Day 332 - David

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This is David.  I've been seeing him around Mt. Tabor for a few years, but we hadn't actually said "hi" to one another until now.  This project has given me the opportunity to actually talk with some of the walkers and runners I see regularly.

I asked David the happiest thing happening in his life right now and David said, "training for Portland to Coast!"  This is David's 14th Portland to Coast race!  Everyone on David's team is over 50 years old!

I asked David if he had recently performed an act of kindness and David explained that that he visits his terminally ill Brother, every week, who is in an assisted living facility which is about an hour away.

When I asked David if he had a personal mission statement, or could define his life's purpose.  He went on to explain that he didn't really have a mission statement but David is grateful just being able to get out of bed every morning.  He's experienced the deaths of a lot of friends and family, and he makes it a point to really live life as a way to honor those who are no longer here.

I asked David something about himself which he would consider to be a success and David responded, "doing the walk for 14 years!"  This is a huge and impressive accomplishment! Good luck to you and your team, David!

 

Day 333 - Joey

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This is Joey.  We also met at Mt. Tabor.  Can you tell that I'm getting back on track with my Mt. Tabor workouts?  Joey had just arrived to the park and was on his way to shoot hoops.

I asked Joey the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he said, "my job playing music!"

When I asked Joey if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that the reason he was in town had been so that he could care for his Father, who had just passed away.  My heart was broken for Joey.   I had no idea of the personal sadness he had been experiencing because he so bravely found an answer when I had asked about the happiest thing happening in his life.  We truly never know what other people are dealing with.  Joey's outing to shoot hoops was his first real venture back out into activities since his Father's passing and he was seeking a bit of a mental and emotional rest.

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I asked Joey if he had a personal mission statement or a life's purpose.  Joey responded, "I'm still finding mine - it's all up to the individual."  Usually, I tend to gently push to see if a little encouragement can help a person to come up with a personal mission statement or help them to define their life's purpose. Considering everything Joey had just gone through - this was more than enough.  He didn't need some stranger asking him about his life's purpose.  At that moment, what he probably needed most, he was about to go do.

"I've learned to adapt to just about any situation I've encountered," Joey said, when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  After meeting Joey, even for just a brief moment, I could see that he is a resilient person and I'm wishing him well.

 

Day 334 - Naomi

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This is Naomi.  I spotted her, contently reading a book, while she was waiting for the bus.  I knew instantly that I wanted to ask to take her picture, but I was also concerned the bus would come and take her away before we could even get started.

I approached Naomi and there was no sign of the bus as far as my forgot-my-glasses eyes could see, so I asked if I could take her picture for the project.

She agreed and I did my best to capture a nice portrait while working under the pressure of the impending bus arrival, and the added challenge of the harsh sun.   After getting home to review the pictures, I was disappointed in myself.  Had I made just a few minor adjustments, I could have had a portrait with which both Naomi and I would have been pleased.  Rather than share one of the more portrait-like pictures,  I decided to just share this one with you...a reenactment of how she was when I first spotted her.  She just looks like someone you'd want to talk with!

I asked Namoi the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she responded, "I'm making a graphic novel that I'm exited to work on."

Naomi's most recent act of kindness is that she made medicine, an herbal tincture, for a friend who needed it.

I asked Naomi if she had a personal mission statement or if she could define her life's purpose.  It's unfortunate we were under time pressures, because Naomi is full of wisdom and she's able to articulate her thoughts effortlessly.  Naomi shared the following, "to encourage compassion in all of its forms."  "To encourage people to educate themselves about the world they live in."  "I want to be more compassionate and well-informed."  "To use all means at my disposal to make the world a more kind and more interesting place."

I only met Naomi briefly, but two powerful means at her disposal would be her art, and her ability for eloquent verbal communication.

"The fact that I've lived this long according to my own ideals; survival," Naomi said, is something about herself which she would consider to be a success.  We knew the bus was about to arrive but she quickly explained that she didn't let life, or the world, get her down, change, or kill her.  It is my hope that rather than letting life change or kill the spirit of people like Naomi, people like Naomi will change the world.

 

Day 335 - Nick

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This is Nick.  I was about to hit the road for a drive back home to Southern Oregon and knowing it could possibly be close to midnight before I arrived home, I realized it was urgent I find a subject for the day.  Luckily, I spotted Nick when I was at the gas station!  I gathered he had just finished work for the day and was headed to the river.

I asked Nick the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he responded, "building homes."  You can see in the picture, Nick's company is Build PDX.  When I asked Nick something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he also answered that it was his business.

Nick's recent act of kindness elevated him to near hero-status for a couple of kids!  He observed that two kids were attempting to buy floaty toys (river/lake toys) but they didn't have enough money for both floaties.  Nick stepped up, covered their purchase and bought the floaties for the kids.

I asked Nick if he had a personal mission statement or could define his life's purpose. Nick replied, "to live a happy life...a comfortable life."

 

Day 336 - my Aunt Nancy

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I've met so many people over the years who have an "Aunt Nancy," and this is mine.  I don't know what it is about all of our "Aunt Nancys," but they're always interesting women!

I asked Aunt Nancy the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "flowers in bloom."  Nancy had just told me a story about how she had been admiring the flowers in her garden so intently, and she was so focused on trying to take a picture of her flowers, that she somehow tripped and took a little stumble and fell right over. Then it struck her that people on the road could see her on the ground. Feeling embarrassed, she hoped that passersby would just think she was doing some weeding.   I know I get my appreciation for nature from my family and where we live.  They call Southern Oregon, "Gods Country," for a reason.   Finally realizing that joy is found in life's simple pleasures such as blooming flowers, green forests, calming rivers and lakes, and colorful sunrises and sunsets - was key to truly finding happiness for me.

I asked Aunt Nancy if she had performed a recent act of kindness and she jokingly said, "people say I'm mean."  We laughed and she said that she's kind to her animals.  My aunt has had animals for as long as I can remember.  More than just pets, she's had a mini-ranch.  Playing with my cousins and their animals are some of my very best childhood memories.

I asked my Aunt Nancy if she had a personal mission statement or if she could define her life's purpose.  She replied that right now, "to stay alive and healthy....keep on keepin' on." Nancy has fought quite the battle against cancer.  She's winning and it's  in remission.  "Being alive," Nancy said, is something about herself she considers to be a success.   She's a 7-year, and counting, survivor.

I can remember going to my Aunt Nancy's for every holiday feast.  Our holiday spread rivaled any of the best Vegas buffets, and when I'm missing my family around the holidays, I confess...I'm also missing my family's cooking!

On my last trip down here, I had been talking with my Aunt and told her I was scared about a situation.  She told me, "don't be scared.  It's not in your blood to be scared."  Aunt Nancy's words struck me so deeply and I've replayed them in my head several times. In a way, I've found courage in her words.  Of course everyone experiences fear at some time.   Everyone is scared at some time. What she was telling me is not to let the fear get the best of me, or paralyze me.   She was telling me to stop giving the fears any of my energy.  I'm sure Nancy was scared throughout the battle with cancer, but being scared wasn't going to help the situation.  She dealt with it.  She was telling me we have the ability to still take action even when we're faced with fear.

I love my Aunt Nancy.  Before I was even old enough to have heard the saying "tough ol' bird," I knew my Aunt Nancy was one.  But I also knew that her love for her family was equally as strong and fierce.

Thank you, Aunt Nancy, for letting me take your picture and for being in this project. Wishing you continued strength and wellness.

 

Here's a review of the wisdom, life's purpose, and personal mission statements from the subjects this week:

  • Live life as a way to honor those who are no longer here.
  • Living for the Lord.
  • To find who we are and what we're here for.
  • To be focused on finding your life's purpose and connecting with your spiritual side.
  • To encourage people to educate themselves about the world they live in.
  • I want to be more compassionate and well-informed.
  • To use all means at my disposal to make the world a more kind and more interesting place.
  • To live a happy life...a comfortable life.
  • To stay alive and healthy....keep on keeping' on.

Thank you to each of you who have been subjects in this project.  I'm grateful for each and every one of you and wish you happiness!

And thank you for folioing along and for being my partner in this.  Can you believe it?  It's almost over!

See you next week!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 46

Hello! We're finished with week 46 of The 365 Day People Picture Project!

If this is the first time you've stopped by, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year.  The pictures are taken fresh daily. I'm not stockpiling photos.  The majority of the subjects in this project have been complete strangers who I've met while walking down the street.  Also included are a few friends, family, and co-workers.

I'm not a photographer and I still haven't taken a photography class, although I'm finally registered for one in a couple weeks. (a little late, huh?)  I just wanted to see if I could do it.  I wanted to challenge myself to do something, every day, for an entire year.  I wanted to learn photography, and I wanted to have content for this newly hatched blog.  And, here we are...

Day 316 - Ty and Marlise

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This is Ty and Marlise.  We met in downtown Vancouver as they were heading to the wine festival in the park, and while I was actually taking a picture of a completely different couple who were going to be the subjects of the day.  Ty and Marlise jumped in on the other photo, much to the relief of the other couple, who then pretty much insisted that Ty and Marlise take their place as the subjects for the day and give the interview.  To onlookers, we would have appeared to have been a group of long-time friends who were stopping for a quick photo, but we were all strangers, having a great laugh together.

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I asked the couple the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and Marlise responded, "we just got married 3 months ago!"  Ty jokingly said that their wedding wasn't his happiest thing and after some kidding around, Ty turned to Marlise and said, "being with you," is the happiest thing happening in my life.   Awwwww, so sweet.

When I asked the newlyweds if they had recently performed an act of kindness, Ty jokingly said no, but then went on to say that he tries to do nice things when they're out and about.  (such as giving money to homeless people on the street corner.)  Marlise said that they had just met a woman who had just moved here from California.  The woman hadn't met any new friends since moving here, so Marlise gave the woman her phone number and they made plans to get together.  I think the woman from California just met herself a couple of fun new friends!

"Nice matters," Marlise replied, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot.

I asked the pair something about themselves they would consider to be a success.  Ty replied, "my house."  "My children," Marlise answered.

Wishing Ty and Marlise a happy new life together!

Day 317 - My Mother-in-Law

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My Mother-in-Law reminds me of a cross between Meryl Streep and Martha Stewart, with a sprinkling of June Cleaver.  Yes, she's just that nice.

I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "getting up to sunshine in the morning, my home and my flowers."  She works hard in her yard, and now she's enjoying seeing her hard work in bloom.

I asked if she had recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she had just driven a group of ladies to the St. Paul Heirloom Rose Garden.

Like other subjects in the project, my mother-in-law was having trouble thinking of an answer when I asked if she could think of a personal mission statement, so I rephrased the question and instead asked about her life's purpose.  With that, she immediately answered, "my life's purpose is to be faithful to Jesus, take care of my husband, spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren, and to stay healthy."

When I asked my mother-in-law one thing about herself which she considers to be a success, she just couldn't and wouldn't give an answer.  I could tell this was an extremely hard question for her and I was struck with the realization that she truly is so selfless, that her own happiness and success comes secondary to the success and happiness of her family and friends.  I don't think she had ever considered herself in this way before.  Eventually, my father-in-law tried helping her with an answer saying that she's successful at gardening and being a grandma.  I continued to push because I thought it was important to hear her own response.  Finally, she replied, "I was very good at my job when I was employed."  (She's enjoying retirement now.)  I was so happy when she came up with an answer and that she had a moment to reflect on her life.

Thank you for letting me take your picture and for welcoming me into your family. I love you.

 

Day 318 - John

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This is John.  He seemed a little sad or stressed when we first met, but by time we were finished, we were both a little happier.

"Starting my own business," John said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.  John's new company will build guitar pedals.

I asked John if he had recently performed an act of kindness.  He couldn't think of something specific, but he was sure he had done little things here and there.

When I asked John if he could think of a personal mission statement, he was stumped for a while, but again, as soon as I rephrased the question, he responded immediately and effortlessly, "to make music."

"Learning to control my own consciousness," John said, is something about himself which he would consider to be a success.

 

Day 319 - Josh

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This is Josh.

"Falling in love," is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Josh if he had recently performed an act of kindness and he explained that he had given money to a woman who is physically disabled and in a wheelchair.  She also possibly has mental health challenges as well. I knew of the woman Josh was speaking of.  I see her sitting in her wheelchair on the street corner every day on my way to work.  Josh had observed her one day and when she would ask people for money and they would decline her, she would get a little upset and say things under her breath, or maybe not quite under her breath.  Josh watched this go on for a while and then approached her, gave her some money, and then more importantly, he gave her some of his time and his kindness.  He talked with the woman, learned her name, and simply just visited with her for a while.  I'm sure she could use the money, but more importantly, I'm positive she benefitted more from Josh's kindness.

"To follow acts of kindness, compassion, love and acceptance of those I care about and those around me, " Josh replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of something on the spot.

"I've raised two amazing children who are healthy and happy," Josh said, is one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success.

 

Day 320 - Graham

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This is Graham.  We met in downtown Portland as I was just leaving the camera shop and he was leaving work.  I spotted Graham and thought he looked nice and approachable, but my hands were full and I wasn't going to ask him because I wasn't "ready" to take a picture.  Something just compelled me to ask him anyway.  Graham agreed and he was patient with me while I set my things down and readied myself.

Graham is a good-looking guy, but I was concerned I wasn't capturing it.  Although we were friendly enough before I had started taking his picture, it became awkward when the camera came out. Graham reminded me of a little kid.  When I would start to take a picture, he would get the biggest, cutest, child-like, forced, say-cheese smile on his face.  I couldn't help myself! I totally cracked up!  I could just imagine him as a kid, saying "c-h-e-e-e-e-e-s-e" when someone would take his picture.  Yes, I know I will never, ever, make it as a professional photographer because not only are my images not good enough, but I'm fairly confident that it says in the professional photographer's code of conduct handbook-  that one shouldn't laugh at their subjects.

Graham explained that he isn't photogenic and when he smiles, it doesn't look authentic.  When people tell me they aren't comfortable having their picture taken after they've agreed to let me take their picture, it means so much to me.  It makes me appreciate them even that much more, because I know they're outside of their comfort zone.  We both are.  The process of working through it together, is rewarding for us both.

Graham suggested that I should tell him a joke to ease the tension and make him genuinely smile.  I'm horrible with jokes. I know we're supposed to always have a joke in the can, but I don't.  I can't retain them.  So,  I blurted out the only thing that came to mind, I said to Graham, "ok, say this: One smart fellow, he felt smart. Two smart fellows, they felt smart.  Three smart fellows, they all felt smart."  (Try it yourself - don't read it, but just say it. It won't work if you read the words.)  Graham said it was too hard and since I didn't have a joke, he was going to tell me one instead.  Graham asked, "what do you call a pile of cats?"  I considered the question, but couldn't think of the punchline.  Graham replied, "a MEOWTAIN!!"  (get it - mountain?)  You can't say that we weren't trying!  We decided to finish the interview, and then take more pictures afterwards.

When I asked Graham the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he thought about his answer for a while and said it was a hard question. I was hoping it was because he had too many happy things to chose from and he confirmed it was.  He finally decided, "my niece and nephew."

When I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness, I could tell he was recalling the past few days/weeks and searching his memory for a kind act.  I also got the feeling he does nice little things for people frequently.  Graham said that he had just given someone directions, and they were correct!  I laughed, agreeing that it's always more kind to give someone good directions, than it is to spin someone in the wrong direction.  (You might remember that I'm guilty of this.)  Graham just moved to Portland from California, so he was particularly pleased that he was able to be of help to tourists since he's new to the area himself.

"Always be mindful," Graham replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

I asked Graham one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, and he replied, "my career."

After the "interview," we took a few more pictures and continued to visit a while longer. I learned that Graham collects domain names.  He said he was pretty obsessed with it for a while, but he's eased up on it a bit.  A few of his current favorites are:  instagraham.com and sparklepony.com.    He hasn't developed them into websites - I understand the fun in just thinking of creative domain names and then procuring them as your own.  Graham now holds onto them for a year and then just releases them back into the wild.

I'm still so amazed when I have interactions with complete strangers and it ends up feeling like I've just spent time with an old friend.  I hope the people in this project have had the same rewarding experiences that I've had.

 

Day 321 - Chris

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This is Chris.  We met at the bus stop which always adds a degree of pressure since we're racing against the clock. Or, at least against the bus which could arrive at any moment.

"Summer vacation," Chris replied, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Chris if he had recently performed an act of kindness.  He replied, "yes," and then got a grin on his face. I asked if he wanted to share, and he explained that he got his girlfriend 6 birthday gifts!

When I asked Chris if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he said that he didn't have one, but his impromptu mission statement is: "to remember that everybody else is a person too."

One thing about himself which Chris would consider to be a success, is that he manages to go on a vacation every year.  Big vacations!  This year, he's going to Germany.  His favorite trip so far was his vacation in Paris.

The bus arrived just as we were finishing up and we were both on our separate ways.

 

Day 322 - Pam

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This is Pam.  She's actually the mother of my dear friend, Debbie. (from week 15.)  Pam was in town for Debbie and Lou's (from week 20) anniversary party and it would be my only opportunity to take her picture for the project.

The day after I graduated high school, I rode a greyhound bus from southern Oregon to Portland and Pam let me stay with her and Debbie for the summer.  Pam is yet one more motherly figure I have in my life, and one more woman that I'm certain my own real mom is grateful for.  Pam was one more woman in the  "gang of moms" who helped see to it that all of us girls were happy, healthy, and safe.

I knew I wanted to share a picture of Pam laughing. She's always laughing!  In order to do so, I recruited Becki (from week 7) to be responsible for making Pam laugh.  It worked. Actually, we were entirely too successful at making Pam laugh. (I don't even want to know what Becki was doing behind my back to make Pam laugh so uncontrollably. All I know is that at one point, Becki was sniffing my armpits.)   In nearly all of the pictures, Pam was laughing hysterically!  We actually had to tone it down a bit and compose ourselves, which was extremely difficult.  I finally decided on this picture.  Although I loved the others in which Pam was laughing,  this is a little more appropriate to share with you.

When I asked Pam the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she gestured to all of us sitting around her and said, "the togetherness of all this."

I asked Pam if she had recently performed an act of kindness. She said that she and her husband, Tommy, volunteer to deliver food for the "Meals on Wheels" program every wednesday.

When I asked Pam if she had a personal mission statement, or if she could think of one on the spot, Pam replied, "to learn to be the very best person I can be...and that means trying to be nicer to people."  Amidst the joking from the family who were sitting in on our interview, Pam started to get serious.  Pam had a health scare recently, and I can imagine it influenced her answer.  She went on to say that she's recently been thinking and seriously making an effort to be a better person because when you get "close to the edge, " you start to consider - "how do I want people to remember me?"

I asked Pam one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success and she replied, "I'm successful at being a dog owner."   I confess, I was surprised at her response because I could think of several different possible answers. I wasn't the only one surprised, because the rest of the family erupted, saying, "you're supposed to say your kids or your marriage!"  We all laughed.  She insisted that her dog is happy and she was standing by her statement.  Pam, again getting serious, went on to say that she's successful at "being close to family, to make them realize how important they are to me."  With that, I got teary-eyed, gave one of my other-mother's a hug, and thanked her for being in the project.  And then we all erupted in laughter again...and I can't even tell you about that. It was just embarrassing for us all.

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Pam touched on her thoughts about how people will remember her.  Pam is nice, even though she's concerned she may not always be.  She's enthusiastic, energetic, loving, and loud.  (You've got to be loud in that family!)  She's a good mom.  She's a hugger! She greets  you with a hug so big, it doesn't make sense how such a petite person can hug so big.  Pam lives.  She finds joy in simple little things like her dog, or a cup of coffee on a sunny morning.  Pam is welcoming.  Pam is someone you want to be around.  She's always reminded me of a woman who should own and run a cattle ranch, or better yet, a B&B on a cattle ranch. But yet, she very much gives off the vibe of the artist and writer she is.

Pam is an encouraging person.  She pushes you to do the things you dream of doing. Pam is a talented writer.  She was attending writing classes when I stayed with them that summer. It wasn't until I saw her passion and joy of writing, that I confessed I had my own passion for writing.  Pam told me about her classes, shared what she had learned, and she let me read her assignments.  I loved reading Pam's stories and I realized that some day, I'd like to become as skilled as Pam. Pam still encourages me to write and she's one of the few people who continues to fan my flame, so much so, that some day - I just may start that book.

Pam, you need not worry how people will remember you.  You are unforgettable, you.  Love you, Pam.

Here's a summary of the personal mission statements or the life's purpose of the subjects from this week:

  • Nice matters.
  • My life's purpose is to be faithful to Jesus, take care of my husband, spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren, and to stay healthy.
  • To make music
  • To follow acts of kindness, compassion, love and acceptance of those I care about and those around me.
  • Always be mindful.
  • To remember that everybody else is a person too.
  • To learn to be the very best person I can be.

That's it for this week!  Thank you for following along!

My sincere thanks to each of you who have been subjects in this project. You are making it happen and I'm grateful for your kindness.   (And thank you to two of my other moms who agreed to be in the project. I love you.)  If you would like a copy of your picture, please don't hesitate to e-mail me!  I'd be happy to send it to you.

Have a big week!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 45

Thank you for checking out week 45 of The 365 Day People Picture Project! I compare this point in the project to being around mile 21 in a Marathon.  For anyone looking on, it would seem that if a person has made it to mile 21 - the rest would be in the bag.  But, a lot can happen in those last 5.2 miles and in those last few miles, the battle that's happening in your head is now a full blown war.

By mile 21, you know if you can still hit your goal, or if you're so far off track that you now just need to concentrate on crossing that finish line.  At mile 21, one moment you're praising yourself for all of your training for the past several months, and then the next moment, you're cursing yourself for not training harder or smarter.  You fight to quiet the voices of self-doubt in your head and replace them with with a loop of positive mantras - I'm strong. I can do it.  I'm strong. I can do it.

So here I am, around mile 21.  I'm off track to meet my goal as far as showing improvement in the quality of the pictures I take - but I'm determined to cross that finish line anyway.  I could have done more.  I could have "trained" harder.  I could have studied more, practiced more, and learned more.  Just like in a marathon - it's time to hush those stupid negative voices and just finish strong.   For now, let's just concentrate on these last 5.2 miles ahead of us.  Let's just finish strong.  Finishing strong doesn't always mean that it's pretty, and quite often it hurts. Badly.  Finishing strong means giving it your entire heart. Finishing strong means you dig down deep to pull out more from yourself than you even knew you had left to give.  You might even just surprise yourself with what you can find when you dig deep.  Finish strong.

Day 309 - JL21

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This is JL21.   I broke my own rule and decided to include a costumed street performer in the project.  But, there is a very good reason why I broke the rule.

Saturday night, I met up with my friend Anne and her friends.  We were having the kind of conversation I live for - one in which we talked about exploring and honoring creativity, doing what we love, finding who we love, and how all those seemingly random life coincidences one day align themselves to reveal that they weren't at all random, but meaningful occurrences orchestrated by the universe to lead us to exactly where we're meant to be.

Anne's friend, Jeannie, brought up "the Robot" during our conversation.  Jeannie knows the true identity of "the Robot," and although now I can't even remember how he was introduced into our conversation, he just fit the topic and he actually played a pretty key role in our beautiful conversation.  I didn't know "the Robot" who Jeannie was referring to, as I had never seen him before.

The next day, as I was driving to the library, I somehow turned down a completely different street than I normally take to go to the library.  I thought it was odd at the time because I get pretty set in my driving routes and routines.  I took a few turns in the attempt to get myself back on my normal route and all of the sudden --- THERE HE WAS!!!!  THE ROBOT!!!  Less than 18 hours after hearing about "the Robot," in a conversation about coincidences-not-being-coincidences, "the Robot" was right before my eyes!   I decided that even though it was against my rule, I just wanted and needed to include him in the project.

In the time that I had "interviewed" JL21, several people had stopped to take pictures with him.  He's quite the popular robot!

I asked JL21 the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my relationship," and "I'm not overheating."   JL21 is a seriously determined robot.  I can imagine that on a hot day, his robot suit could get practically unbearable.

JL21 works for tips but his act of kindness is that he still lets people take pictures with him, even if they don't have money for a tip.  People love him!

"To live every moment," LJ21 replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement, or if he could think of one on the spot.  JL21 explained that living every moment is actually the art of slowing time and that it helps if you have a love for everything.

I asked JL21 one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied in a robot-like voice, "that I am a happy Robot."

If you would like to meet JL21, he can be found on Saturdays and Sundays  near Vancouver Farmers Market and Esther Short Park.

 

Day 310- Ian

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This is Ian.  A person sitting alone at a patio table has officially become an invitation for an invitation...it's become pretty easy for me to invite myself to sit down with them to ask if I can take their picture.

"I'm moving to Canada in 2 months, " Ian replied, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Ian if he had recently performed an act of kindness.  He said that he does little things all the time, the most recent thing that came to mind is that he had just given a man a cigarette.

"Be nice to people, leave a little footprint, and spread happiness," Ian responded, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

I asked Ian one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "I'm still skateboarding at 28 years old."  I both kidded him and encouraged him, telling him my boss is 50+ and still skateboarding, and that hopefully he'll be able to say the same when he's his age.

 

Day 311 - Mercy

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This is Mercy.

"I'm working on trying to buy my house," Mercy said, is the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

I asked Mercy if she had recently performed an act of kindness.  Mercy couldn't think of something specific, but she then explained that she works in customer service and she has the opportunity to be kind to people every day in the job she does.

"To be better and better," Mercy replied, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot.

I asked Mercy one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success and she explained that in addition to her job, she also has a coaching business - Left Turn Coaching.   Mercy travels the country teaching and coaching Roller Derby Teams!

Good luck in the home-buying adventure, Mercy!

 

Day 312 - Marc

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This is Marc.

In my search for a daily subject, I often pass by Portland Shoe Repair, in the Hollywood District, and it always looks like such a happening place!  I couldn't figure out why so many people would be at a shoe repair shop, so I finally decided to stop in and that's where I met Marc.  There were enough guys for a basketball team and I learned they were all family, just hanging out and helping the family member who was working at the time.

I asked Marc the happiest thing happening in his right now and he replied, "enjoying the summer."

Marc's recent act of kindness, one in which he often does, is that he gave a person a MAX (lightrail commuter train) ticket.

"Take pride in your work," Marc responded, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

I was a little surprised and impressed at Marc's next answer, given his age.  One thing about himself which Marc considers to be a success - is his perseverance.  Marc said he stays mentally strong and no matter what happens, he sees the silver lining.   Marc has a pretty wise outlook for someone just beginning his life.  With that mindset, he'll go far.

 

Day 313 - Emily

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This is Emily.

"I'm dancing again," Emily replied, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life right now.  Emily is a dancer and when I asked if she danced a particular style, she explained that right now, her work is mainly Latin style dancing.

Emily was having a hard time recalling if she had recently performed an act of kindness.  I could tell she had been searching her memory when she finally stated that she had made pancakes for her boyfriend.

In this project, I've noticed that some people have a tendency to minimize the act of kindness they perform for their partners.  Seems we don't place enough value on the little things we do for our friends, family and loved ones.  Those little gestures are of huge significance because they set people up to do good things throughout the day.  My husband makes my coffee 96% of the time and I can't even begin to thank him enough.  This one little act of kindness is not so little for me...it's HUGE!

We just never know...a tiny little thing we do for someone could be the stone that starts the ripple of kindness.  We don't have to be millionaire philanthropists to make a difference. It can begin with a smile, or a pancake.

"To stay in a constant state of evolution," Emily replied, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot.

I asked Emily one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success and she replied after careful consideration, "defining my own success."  Again, such an insightful answer from a person who's just beginning her life.  She pretty much nailed the whole point of this question and the reason I've been asking it.  How do you define success?  Specifically, how do you define success for your own life?

 

Day 314 - Andi Caroline

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This is Andi.  He's another person I met by simply inviting myself to sit down with him at his patio table.  Thankfully, he didn't mind me interrupting his break from work.

When I asked Andi the happiest thing happening in his life right now, the first answer he gave was, "getting to walk to work every day."  He then revised it to be, "consciously simplifying my life."  Andi has made the decision to simplify his life. He doesn't want to waste time or money.  It was as though Andy had been reading my mind.  Just earlier I had been thinking that the majority of the money I waste, ironically, was wasted by trying to save money.  In addition to wasting money, I end up with closets or drawers full of stuff I just won't or can't use. I had decided it was time to do another exercise in simplifying and Andi was a great reminder the time is now.  Living simply can feel liberating and obviously for Andi, it's bringing him great happiness.

I asked Andi if he had recently performed an act of kindness and I could tell he was feeling a little stressed and disappointed because he couldn't recall a specific act of kindness.   He made a very good point that if he does an act of kindness, he doesn't write them down or log them mentally, so nothing was coming to mind.  I think that's the same for a lot of us.

"Live by your values,"  Andi replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

I asked Andi one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and after considering the question again, he replied, "growing brussels sprouts."

As we visited, Andi kept circling back to the "act of kindness" question, determined to provide an answer.  When people start to feel bummed because they can't think of an answer, I normally remind them that they allowed me to take their picture.  For some reason, I don't know why I didn't tell this to Andi. I t Andi seemed so disappointed in himself.   He questioned if I was going to say that he hadn't performed an act of kindness.  It was really bothering Andi!  Poor guy!  I was so happy and relieved when Andi reached the conclusion on his own when he announced - I let you take my picture!  His inclusion in the project was his act of kindness!  Yes!  Andi gave me a huge amount of his kindness by letting me take his picture and share it with you.   After agreeing with Andi that it was an act of kindness and actually a pretty big one since a lot of people don't enjoy having their picture taken, he confessed he's one of those people. He's much more comfortable being behind the camera.  I have not doubt Andi performs acts of kindness on a daily basis - he's a nice person and his act of kindness, is his kindness.

 

Day 315 - Yesenia, Maria, and Angel

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This is Yesenia (left), Maria (center), and Angel (right).

I headed down to Ester Short Park and the Vancouver Farmers Market in search of a subject.  The park was gated off for a wine festival, so I was restricted to the Farmers Market and the area around there.  It's difficult to explain, but I have the hardest time finding a subject in big events.

Not having any luck at the farmers market, I decided to just go sit on a bench outside the park and wait for someone.  I noticed a steady stream of sharply dressed men and women flowing by me.  The Hilton Hotel and Convention Center is just down the block from where I was sitting, so I gathered there must be an event happening.  I decided to ask Yesenia, Maria and Angel if I could take their picture for the project and they confirmed they were attending a Hispanic business conference.

Given there were three people, I asked them each only two questions.

I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and they answered as follows: Yesenia - "the opportunity of being financially free."  Maria (as interpreted by Yesenia) - "in a few months, I will be financially free and without a boss."  Angel - "the opportunity to succeed."

I asked the the trio if they had a personal mission statement or if they could think of one on the spot, and I clarified the question by asking about their life's purpose.  Yesenia replied, "faith can get you to where you want to be."  Angel replied, "trying to better the life of hispanics and immigrants."  Maria responded, (with interpretation provided by Yesenia) "to help other people and to put God as a priority.  Thanks to him, we're free."  Yesenia went on to say that we have two choices in life. We can choose good or bad.  She wants people to know the good in life.  She wants people to uphold family values.

I was totally kicking myself after meeting Yesenia, Maria and Angel.  They were three beautiful and kind people and I could have better captured them had I had the right lens. I just had to make do. I almost didn't approach them, knowing I had on the completely wrong lens for a group picture, but I'm so glad I didn't let it stop me.  I'm so glad I got to meet them and I'm inspired by their genuine desire for good things and prosperity for the Hispanic community.  I just had to remind myself that limitations are only limitations if we allow them to be.  Sometimes, we just need to figure out a way to work around them.

Here's the summary of the personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • To live every moment.
  • Be nice to people, leave a little footprint, and spread happiness.
  • To be better and better.
  • Take pride in your work.
  • To stay in a constant state of evolution.
  • Live by your values.
  • Faith can get you to where you want to be.
  • Trying to better the life of hispanics and immigrants.
  • To help other people and to put God as a priority.

Thank you for following along on another week of this project.

If you've been a subject in this project - thank you for your kindness and your generosity in sharing yourself with us.  I appreciate you, and thank your for letting me take your picture. If you like your picture, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to e-mail you a copy.

Have a successful week - however you define success!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 44

Hello, and thank you for checking in on week 44 of The 365 Day People Picture Project! If this is your first time stopping by, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year.  I'm not a photographer and I haven't even taken any photography classes or lessons.  I started this blog and quickly realized that blogging is hard work! Especially when you live an uninteresting life.  I needed blog content!  Having good content also means having good images.  I had neither, but the one thing I did have was a brand new, decent, entry-level DSLR.   With subtle influences from a few different sources, the realization that my need for both content and good images, and my hidden desire to become a recreational photographer, evolved into The 365 Day People Picture Project.

When I started this project, I had dreams of developing into a talented and skilled photographer with an artistic eye.  Well, I'm not even anywhere close to achieving that, but I'm not giving up.  I simply haven't worked hard enough at this, I haven't learned enough, and I ended up not even taking any photography workshops or classes.

I've been on my own with a few books and unlimited online resources, but there came a point when I was trying to study so much and so hard, I really wasn't absorbing anything.  I was getting frustrated, feeling stupid and defeated.

Now that I'm nearing the end of the 365 days, and after reviewing my recent photos, I realize that I'm not going to magically become the artist I had hoped to become in these last few days.  That was an unrealistic expectation, especially considering that I need some experienced coaching to get where I would like to be.

These last few weeks, starting next week, I will end the project exactly how I began the project.  My objective will be to see each subject as the beautiful person they are, and simply set out with the intention to capture their unique sparkle.

Day 302 - Peter James

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Peter James was the last of my subjects from my working holiday in which I got to play tourist and stay at a hotel in Downtown Portland.  (I wasn't much of a good tourist, considering all I did was crash out as soon as we were done working.)

I asked Peter James the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he replied, "inner personal growth."

When I asked Peter James if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that he is in medicine, so he has the opportunity to perform acts of kindness for his patients.

"Self-transformation," was Peter James' answer, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.

Peter James was pretty bashful in giving an answer when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  He looked sort of pained when I asked him the question. He explained that he's humble in giving an answer because he feels like he has lots to work on.  He finally decided on an answer, and said, "perseverance."

 

Day 303 - Andrea

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This is Andrea.  She's actually Brandy's co-worker. (Brandy was week 15.)  I spotted Brandy and Andrea outside of their shop and headed their way with the intention to say hi to Brandy, and also hoping Andrea would let me take her picture.  It was such a pleasant coincidence.  As I was walking toward their shop, I ran into Blanch (from week 37) and we were able to visit for a moment.  When I reached Brandy and Andrea, I could see another one of the subjects from this project waiting for the bus, just down the block! In that moment, I experienced another great community feeling.  In just a few short blocks, I encountered several new "friends."  All because of this project!

I asked Andrea the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "my boyfriend."  "My life is pretty great, actually," Andrea continued.

When I asked Andrea if she had performed a recent act of kindness, she explained that she was in line behind an elderly woman at the grocery store and when the elderly lady went to pay for her groceries, she realized she had forgotten her wallet at home.  Not wanting the lady to have to go all the way back home to retrieve her wallet, then come all the way back to the store to retrieve her already-shopped for groceries, Andrea paid for the elder's groceries.  She simply paid for them outright, not asking or expecting the woman to pay her back. It was a gift, not a loan.   What a sweetheart.

"Live life to its fullest," Andrea answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could make one up on the spot.

I asked Andrea one thing about herself she would consider to be a success and she replied, "my loyalty, and my children."

 

Day 304 - David

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This is David.  He didn't even hesitate to answer when I approached him to ask if I could take his picture for this project.

When I asked David about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he gestured to his camera-shy partner, Bryen, and replied, "this man right here- he's my partner in crime and my partner in life."

David and Bryen were attempting to have dinner but the Burger Bar where they wanted to eat, was closed.  Lucky for me, because had the restaurant been open, they wouldn't have been standing outside the locked doors with sad and hungry eyes, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet them!

I asked David if he's recently performed an act of kindness.  David explained that when they go out to eat, they often donate their leftover meals to homeless people.  (sometimes people decline the gesture, but most often, people appreciate the meal.)

David was the third or fourth person in this project to have his personal mission statement actually tattooed on his body. (I've lost count - it's been a few though, and I love it!)  David's personal mission statement, the statement on his forearm, "endure life, be true, die happy."

I asked David one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "building friendships."  This was so obvious!  In the short time I had been visiting with David and Bryen, again, I felt like I had just met new friends.  I have no doubt, they build friendships wherever they go!

After we finished the picture and "interview," we visited a while longer. Knowing the guys were in the mood for a good burger, I suggested Sam's Billiards as an alternative since it was just around the corner.  We walked together since my car was parked next to Sam's.  I learned that David and Bryen had just moved to Portland, from Arizona,  the week prior.  I told them they brought the sun with them because it had been beautiful since they arrived.  They laughed and were actually looking forward to the rainy and overcast northwest weather.  David and Bryen would both be starting their new jobs in a few days and settling in to call Portland home.

Once again, this project has enabled me to be on the unofficial welcoming committee and welcome new residents to the area!

David and Bryen were nice and fun guys and I hope to run into them again some day.  A few days after David was the subject, the weather changed and we're back to our drizzly and misty Portland weather.  I was actually happy the weather changed so that David and Bryen could experience the weather of which they had been dreaming.

 

Day 305 - Dylan

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I've been seeing Dylan around for a few months now.  I often leave work at the same time he's taking a break from his job down the street.  I've known I wanted to ask if he'd be in the project for a while, but I always spot him just after I pass the entrance of the parking lot where he works.  I told myself to remember to stop if I ever see an open parking spot on the street and he's out taking his break.  Finally!  There was an open spot on the street and not just one spot, but two!  It was perfect because I'm not the best parallel parker- I sort of need a landing runway.

I realized how funny it must have sounded as I quickly rambled the explanation of my project and how I finally had a parking spot in which to pull over.  In my quick and excited rambling, I'm sure the poor guy was only able to gather enough information to feel just a little creeped out to know someone had been watching him...but he agreed to be in the project anyway.  I was pretty embarrassed after I thought about it.

I asked Dylan the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my girlfriend, Emma."

I asked Dylan if he had recently performed and act of kindness and he said that because of the area where we work, he has lots of opportunities to perform acts of kindness. There's a fairly large homeless population in the area, so he often gives people something to eat or drink.

"What you put out into the universe, you get back," Dylan said, is his personal mission statement.  Dylan said he tries to be nice to everyone.

One thing about himself which Dylan considers to be a success - is that he quit smoking this year!!  I wished him continued success!

 

Day 306 - John and Trevor

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This is John (left) and Trevor (right).  I almost felt as though they were plants and I was being punked.

I could tell they were nice guys but they were sooooo mellow.  In their own way, I think they were playing with me- but they assured me they weren't.

I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and they both agreed they were happy about summer break.

When I asked the pair if they had recently performed an act of kindness, they both replied flatly, "no."  I laughed.  I thought they were joking because they were just so dry about it.  Plus, I got a good feeling about them, so I was certain they must have performed some sort of act of kindness. They kept insisting they hadn't.  Finally, I think just to make me shut up, Trevor said that he gave his girlfriend a glass of water.

When I asked if they had a personal mission statement, or could think of one on the spot, Trevor answered first, saying, "no fun."  John then quickly fired back, "party."  "No fun," followed by "party"...see why I thought they were joking with me?

If it was a challenge to find out if they had performed a recent act of kindness, it was even more challenging to find out if there was something about themselves they would consider to be a success.  I was so thrilled when they both gave genuine answers, and quite interesting ones at that!  Trevor finally responded, "I have a garden."  John then replied, after much more pressing, "decorating."

I knew these guys were interesting.  I just have a feeling they're so interesting, they were F'ing with me the whole time.

 

Day 307 - Ryan Sollee

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This is Ryan Sollee, of the band, "The Builders and the Butchers."  I know he looks like the sweet guy who works in the IT department, but he's one hellofa badass rock star.  The sound that comes from this man is absolutely incredible!

I'm embarrassed by how badly I blew this picture.  But in my defense, I was suddenly nervous when I approached Ryan to ask if I could take his picture. I only recently discovered The Builders and the Butchers a few months ago when Ryan opened for Langhorne Slim in a solo show.  I was blown away!  Ryan's voice and lyrics are intense and some of the songs caused goosebumps!  I purchased two CD's the night of that solo show, and when I'm not listening to audio books, I'm listening to either Lucero, Langhorne Slim, or The Builders and the Butchers.

Having only seen Ryan's solo show, I didn't even know what the rest of the band looked like.  I made it a point to arrive to the show early and I spotted Ryan just as soon as I arrived.  He was talking with some other guys, who turned out to be the rest of the band. I interrupted them, asked for a pardon for interrupting them,  and then asked Ryan if I could take his picture for the project.   Ryan agreed to let me take his picture and then gestured for the other guys to join.  You know how I am about group photos - I knew I would blow it!  It was so embarrassing.  Not only had I basically ignored the rest of the band by accident, but my terror of having to take a group photo must have read on my face like I only wanted to take Ryan's picture.  I just don't do well with group photos yet. (partially because a group picture is a challenge to begin with, partially because I don't know what I'm doing, and partially because I don't have the right lens.)  The other guys told Ryan it was ok and we went outside to take the picture.  If I had only known how badly I was going to fail, I would have insisted the entire band join in the picture. (I'm convinced I would have done a better job.)

We stepped outside to take the picture but I was so busy rambling on about how much I enjoy his music, that I lacked any sort of concentration or focus.  Ryan had been giving a cute little "ta-da" sort of pose and I just babbled right through it and took the picture at just the completely wrong time.  The result was not good.  The pictures were so poorly composed and my timing was so off, you would have thought I had taken the pictures with my eyes closed. Plus, I managed to somehow capture Ryan at just the wrong moment and it made him look like a contortionist because I caught him as he was ending his cute little "ta-da" pose.  The picture shown here was my effort to rescue at least one of the bad shots I had taken, enough so that I could share something with you. I had to crop the hell out of it.  (It was nearly 1am  by time I got home and since it was past midnight, I had to use one of Ryan's pictures.  I couldn't go out to find another subject since it was technically the next day and if I didn't use Ryan's picture, then I would have missed a day.)  So, here we are.  I had an opportunity to take the picture of an amazing and talented musician, but I let my admiration for his work interfere with my mission.

I'm not a music critic or reviewer, so I don't even know how to appropriately review a band or a genre/sound, but tried explaining them to one of my friends by saying The Builders and the Butchers are a blend between rock and alt country, a little folk/americana-ish, with a sprinkling of gospel and sometimes the almost-detectable pulse of Native drumming. (or what seems to be at least a slight influence of Native drumming. I get this vibe because of my own personal life experience. I'm not certain if it's accurate or true.)

They sing about addiction and redemption, death, women...and black dresses!  After seeing the entire band live, it became apparent why I pick up on a Native drumming sort of vibe - they have two drummers! You're compelled to stomp your feet and dance with the rhythm.  Ryan's voice also contributes to that vibe.   Ryan sings with purpose and intent and some songs feel like he's given you his soul.  He's not simply singing just to entertain - it's more like a cry or a prayer.  In some songs it's more like he's giving praise or thanks. You don't just hear the music, you completely absorb the lyrics and the stories Ryan sings in his songs.

In one live show, you journey from partying and hard drinkin', meeting a woman in a black dress who drinks away her history,  you encounter some bad parents, a few deaths, you succumb hopelessly and completely into addiction, ready for death - you cry to God, "take me home."  Broken, but not yet dead, you cry out again, "find me o' find me, in the air, Lord." And then you find it...redemption!  It's like an alcohol-soaked church sermon!  And, it's incredible!

So, you can see why I got a little preoccupied and blew my picture.

I asked Ryan the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "I have a 2 year old."  This was a pretty beautiful answer considering he was about to perform a show and they just came off a tour in Germany.

When I asked Ryan if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he explained that he had asked his friend, of the band Bash Face, to open for them in the attempt to help them up.  Had I not known this, I would have missed  the sincere appreciation expressed by Bash Face for the opportunity.  Several times throughout their performance, they thanked The Builders and the Butchers and it was obvious they were excited and grateful for the chance!

I asked Ryan if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  I noticed that it seemed like he specifically had to make the distinction between his personal mission statement, and perhaps whatever guides his music.  He replied, "try to do as many different things as possible, all the time."

When I asked Ryan one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, I speculated the answer would be his music/the band.  He surprised me and warmed my heart when he said, "being a Dad."  He must have detected the surprise in my face as I was expecting his answer to be about the band, but he went on to say that being a Dad is way more joyous and fulfilling than being in a band.

And with that, Happy Father's Day!

 

Day 308 - Casey

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This is Casey.

"Doing good with work, earning money," was Casey's reply, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

I asked Casey if he had performed a recent act of kindness and he said that he recently helped a person out who was in a bad place in her life.

When I asked Casey if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he had trouble thinking of a response.  Casey is young and just beginning his life - so this wasn't surprising at all.  I rephrased the question to ask about his life's purpose instead.  Casey replied, "to be successful."   Curious, and wanting to help narrow down the focus for Casey, I asked him how he defines success.  He went on to say that success is "accomplishing your personal life goals" and "doing what makes you happy".  I remember back when I was Casey's age.  Everything was so cyclical.  He's not certain of his personal mission statement, or his life's purpose, but he has the ambition to be a success. It's like you know you want to do something, and you want to do it well, but you just don't know what that something is!  At that age, it felt like the possibilities were endless and the thought of that was also terrifying and paralyzing. I remember feeling like I can do anything I want...but I don't know what to do!  Again, I narrowed down the focus even further and asked Casey about some of his life's goals.  We were then able to break things down quite simply. The first step for Casey, is that he wants to get his own place and take care of "life stuff" such as that.  Direction!  We found it!  I'm optimistic Casey will make these things happen for himself!

When I asked Casey one thing about himself he would consider to be a success, he again mentioned his job.

Here's a review of the personal mission statements from this week's subjects:

  • Self-transformation.
  • Live life to its fullest.
  • Endure life, be true, die happy.
  • What you put out into the universe, you get back.
  • "Party" / "No fun,"  (can we change this to be - find a balance between work and play?)
  •  Try to do as many different things as possible, all the time.
  • To be successful.

Thank you to every subject in this project!  It couldn't exist without you!  Please feel free to contact me if you'd like a copy of your picture and I'd be happy to e-mail it to you.

Thank you for following along with this project!

Have a great week!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 43

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

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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

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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."

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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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.

Thank you!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 42

Hello!We're finished with week 42, of The 365 Day People Picture Project!

I'm preparing to get back on the road for a 5 hour drive home, so we'll get straight to the introductions of the subjects from this week.

Day 288 - Chelsea

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This is Chelsea. We only had a few minutes as she was just stepping out from work to feed the parking meter. I walked with her to plug the meter and we talked while we walked.

I asked Chelsea the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she responded, "I really want to go to Africa and things are opening up."

"Everyday kindness is a very powerful," Chelsea replied, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot. When I asked Chelsea something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she replied, "I believe in Jesus. I'm a Christian."

Day 289 - Len and Mongoose

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Len and Mongoose were soaking up the sun at Esther Short Park. I had no idea when I approached them, that Len is hearing impaired. As I asked him if I could take his picture, he gestured to his ear to let me know he was deaf. I don't know sign language, but I had paper and a pen. I sat down with Len and Mongoose and wrote a note to ask if I could take his picture and explained I would instagram the picture and then tell a story on the blog.

I was happy when Len agreed and it was fun hanging out with the two for a few moments in the bright warm sunshine!

After the pictures, I wrote another note for Len, asking him about the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Len wrote back that he and Mongoose are outdoors all the time! He even joked that he and Mongoose have ADHD and they would rather be outdoors than at home in their apartment.

mongoose3-365daypeoplepictureproject I only asked Len the one question but stayed with him and Mongoose for a little while longer. I could tell Len was happy about having his picture taken with Mongoose. He gave me his e-mail address and asked if I could e-mail him the pictures. I happily agreed and tried my best to get a portrait of Mongoose that Len would love. (I was struggling with getting a proper picture of the both of them in the bright sun, but I was pleased with Mongoose's picture and hope Len is too!)

 

Day 290 - Tanner

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This is Tanner. He was running at Mt. Tabor. Tanner is currently training for his first half-marathon in 2 weeks!

"School is almost out," Tanner replied, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Tanner's recent act of kindness is that he purchased dinner for a friend who was a little low on money.

"Progress, not perfection," Tanner replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or could think of one on the spot.

When I asked Tanner one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, he replied, "I quit drinking and drugs." I congratulated him and we talked about how spending “happy hour” at Mt. Tabor, training, beats any happy hour around!

Good luck at the race, Tanner. As my friend Molly always says, “may your feet have wings!” Day 291 - Arthur

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This is Arthur. We met near Portland State University.

"I just had a good dinner, and I'm getting good grades," Arthur replied, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life.

Arthur also just finished writing a screenplay! I was exited to hear of his huge accomplishment and asked what he planned to do with it next. He laughed and said it was awful, so he'd most likely do nothing with it. Knowing we're always our own worst critic, I wanted to encourage him not to dismiss it so quickly. I also learned that Arthur just finished his own 365 Day Project in which he worked on writing a play, every day, for an entire year! Arthur has ambition and the burning desire sustained him enough to write every day for a year - I don't think this is the last we'll see of Arthur!

"Be happy for those who are happy. Be sad for those who are sad. Be indifferent to those who are wicked," was Arthur's response when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

Wishing you lots of success with your writing, Arthur! Hmmm, if my friend Molly’s wish for runners had an equivalent for writers, maybe it would be - may inspiration always find you and the words flow easily. Or maybe it would be - may your ideas have wings! However we package the wish - may you find success!

 

Day 292 - Ambert

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This is Ambert. He was waiting outside the Hollywood Theatre when I approached to ask if I could take his picture.

When I asked Ambert about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he replied, "I just started dating a new girl." Ambert also loves his work.

I asked Ambert if he had performed a recent act of kindness and that's when he went on to explain more about his job. Ambert is a massage therapist at Asha Integrative Wellness and he considers his job as an opportunity for kindness. Ambert wants to make people happy and help them to feel better.

"Spread love and light," Ambert replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot. It was obvious in just the few moments I spent with Ambert that he does indeed spread love and light, and I was a lucky recipient.

After the pictures and "interview," Ambert gave me a hug and we wished each other well and I was on my way. Indeed, feeling happy and better!

I can't find the words to explain to you how amazing and enriching the experience is of stopping to talk with a stranger, and within a few moments, you’re exchanging hugs and well wishes with one another. Strangers becoming friends. Granted, the friendship is one of only a 5 minute duration, and we'll most likely never see one another again, but the impact of these little 5-minute friendships is life-changing. These interactions have been like a little jump-start for my heart and attitude. They give me a charge and help me to recover from, or cope with, the other times throughout the day which aren't as positive. Can you imagine if you gave yourself the opportunity to meet a new 5-minute friend each day? How would your life change? How would it affect the life of your 5-minute friend?

Day 293 - Rick

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This is Rick. He was getting gas in the car in front of me. "Going to the beach to go surfing," Rick replied, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now. He was filling up and heading out to go surf!

When I asked Rick if he had recently performed and act of kindness, at first, he was stumped for an answer. Then it hit him, hit us both, actually. I had just witnessed Rick's act of kindness. Oregon still has gas station attendants who pump the gas for you and at a full service station, they even still wash your windows and check your oil. I had watched with my own eyes, Rick had just tipped the gas station attendant when they completed their transaction. That was his act of kindness! I was happy to be able to see Rick's act of kindness, and then all of the sudden it hit me. Is tipping the gas station attendant normal and "expected?" Have I been neglecting tip etiquette for all of these years? Rick and I talked about it and tipping a gas attendant is pretty rare, and makes Rick's gesture even more kind because it is unexpected, but very much appreciated. (as I witnessed by how appreciative the attendant was with Rick's kindness.) Rick also feels his job as a geologist helps him to do good for the planet.

When I asked Rick if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he replied, "Everyone has a place - no job is more important than another." I loved this sentiment and again, was reminded of the book, "The Leader who had no Title," by Robin Sharma. I asked Rick if he had read the book because what he had said was so in line with the message of the book. For example, gas station attendants are more than station attendants. They are people who gave us the fuel to get Rick on the road to surfing, and me on the road to work. They did more than pump gas, they gave us friendly and helpful service and set us up to have a better day! I asked Rick something about himself he would consider to be a success, and he said that he thinks he is good - morally and ethically.

 

Day 294 - Denise and Zac

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I met Denise and Zac, in Veteran's Park in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I made a quick trip to Southern Oregon, to visit my Mom, and am here now just preparing to get back on the road.

I had been around family earlier in the day, but the timing just wasn't right to ask any of my family if I could take their picture. I'm sad about that, but happy I was able to at least see them in person.

"We're on a three week road trip," Zac replied, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in their lives right now. Zac and Denise were just 24 hours into their trip when we met at the park. Denise told me about a funny sign they had just driven past in another small town. The sign outside of a restaurant read, "now serving good food." We laughed and I imagine and hope this was the first of many happy memories for them on their 3 week adventure.

I asked the couple if they had recently performed an act of kindness. They thought for a while as they were trying to recall a recent kind act. They're both sure they do everyday acts of kindness such as holding the door open for people. Denise then went on to say that she visited with some elderly ladies at a quilt shop which they had stopped into in a tiny little Northern California town. She questioned whether that was an act of kindness and we determined it was a very kind thing. Denise is a pleasant person and I'm sure it made the elderly ladies' day to have an out-of-towner from LA visit with them and sign their guest book. Denise and Zac could have very easily blown through the town in a hurry to get back on the road, but Denise took the time to hang out in the quilt shop with the elderly quilters. Kindness can be more than giving money or things to people in need. Kindness is sharing of ourselves. (Sharing the best of ourselves.)

Zac's act of kindness is that so far, he's been the driver on the first leg of their journey. I asked the pair if they had personal mission statements or if they could think of one. Denise borrowed her friend's quote - "trample the earth." She wanted to point out that the word "trample" sounds destructive but it's intention is to explore the world, not actually trampling it. Very fitting, considering they were just about to explore the west coast and Canada! Zac's personal mission statement - “live without regrets.”

When I asked something about themselves which they would consider to be a success, Denise immediately responded, "I feel like I'm pretty resilient." Zac thought, and considered, and pondered, and stewed...and then Denise suggested a response, "you're very good at over-thinking things." We laughed and Zac decided to go with it, saying that he's successful at being well thought-out and considerate of all possible options. I was happy to have met this cute and nice LA couple in the small town where I had grown up. I thought for sure I would run into an old friend at the park and it was kind of ironic to run into tourists, as I'm feeling a bit like a tourist myself.

Wishing them lots of fun and great memories, and a safe road trip!

Here’s the summary of the personal mission statements from this week:

  • Progress, not perfection.
  • Be happy for those who are happy. Be sad for those who are sad. Be indifferent to those who are wicked.
  • Spread love and light.
  • Everyone has a place - no job is more important than another.
  • Trample the earth.
  • Live without regrets.

Thank you for checking in this week. If you were a subject in this project - thank you for your kindness! Thank you for being a part of this project and sharing yourself with us.

Please remember - next week is going to be the busiest week of the year for me at work, so next Sunday's post may come a few hours late. (or possibly as late as monday.) Don't worry - i'm still taking the daily pictures but I may just need a little extra time to be able to pause long enough to share them here. You can also follow me on instagram - my user name is @missellanea.

Wishing you an excellent week and I hope you'll give yourself the opportunity to meet a few new 5-minute friends!

Thank you!

365 Day People Picture Project - Week 41

Hello! Thank you for checking in on week 41 of The 365 Day People Picture Project!

If this is your first visit, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year.  I had never owned a real camera, other than just point and shoot.  (and it was film!)  My intention was to learn how to operate my new DSLR, and to learn the art of photography.  I feel the only thing I can say about my progress, so far, is that I've learned how to approach a stranger and talk with them without feeling like I could possibly die of shyness.   The process of forcing myself to approach and interact with strangers has been exhausting, but also completely rewarding and life-changing.

It's almost as though I'm becoming re-wired.  Before starting this project, I was always operating in the red on the stressed-out-o-meter.  The only time I wasn't intensely contemplating work or life pressures, was when I was walking or hiking my favorite trails and parks.   This project has forced me to get out of my own stressed-out head and to really see the people around me.  Some of whom are also equally intense, or some people who seem to be the complete opposite and who seem to have mastered the ability to be completely present.  It seems that no matter what our moods may have been at the moment I met each subject, I think we both left our interaction feeling a boost of happiness!

I've left each interaction feeling like my life was a little more enriched and I left feeling a slight honor that a person was willing to let me take their picture, and willing to share a little something about themselves.  Now when I'm out and about, I make a conscious effort to spread smiles and act with patience and kindness.   So many people in this project have shared their smiles and patience with me...I want to keep passing it on.  It is my hope that this little project inspires you to feel and do the same.

 

Day 281 - Brandon, Ted and Fozzie

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I met Brandon, Ted (the light dog) and Fozzie (the black dog) down at Esther Short Park, in Vancouver.   I spotted Brandon and his wife and their canine kids when I first arrived at the park but I was a little hesitant on asking them if I could take their picture.  I knew if they agreed, I would be in for a big challenge.  By now you know how I am about group pictures, then add in a pair of dogs, and I wasn't sure I could manage.  It was also starting to down-pour, and both Brandon and his wife were wearing bright Steelers gold jackets.  I had realized that I hadn't ever taken a picture of such bright colors and although it sounds funny, I was intimidated by the color.

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I was glad I finally got up the nerve to approach them.  Brandon and his wife were new to the area and so friendly!  I was happy to be part of the unofficial welcoming committee.

I asked Brandon the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he responded, "waking up everyday, doing this, and nature!"  Brandon just moved from Arizona and he and his wife have already fallen in love with all of our green!  They love spending time in nature and are enjoying the huge contrast between the Northwest and the desert.

I asked if Brandon had recently performed an act of kindness and he explained they had just adopted Ted at the Doggie Dash the week before.  The way Ted and Fozzie were playing and loving each other, I thought they were old pals!  I'm so happy for Ted and his new home with Brandon and his wife!  Ted came with a long list of potential issues and negative traits and Brandon and his wife were prepared for a rough settling-in period but it sounds like Ted has been a dream of a dog. I would have never guessed they hadn't all been a family-unit for years.

I asked Brandon if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He's actually a person who has given it some thought and he said that it's been redesigned the past year, but right now he's decided on, "find a way to be happy."

I asked Brandon something about himself he would consider to be a success and he replied, "my three men."  The youngest of his 3 sons is graduating and now he's happy to be "sending three men off into life."

 

Day 282 - Wendy

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This is Wendy.  We met at Mt. Tabor park.

"Just digging being healthy, deep breathing, and being alive," Wendy responded, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life right now.

Wendy's recent act of kindness is that she had just given a donation to a Church group, and she didn't take the chocolate they were "selling."  We joked that resisting the candy was also an act of kindness for her self, especially after working so hard at Tabor to be healthy.

When I asked Wendy if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one, she said that it is actually something she's had on her to-do list for a while.  Her current working personal mission statement is, "opening my heart, cultivating love and kindness, and finding ways to be of service."

Throughout this project, I've been amazed there have been a few people who have actually been giving thought to the idea of developing a personal mission statement.  If they hadn't fully decided on a personal mission statement, they've been at least prepared with some sort of guiding quote or the beginnings of their personal mission statements.  Equally amazing, have been the people who have been able to come up with an impromptu personal mission statement which has been quite meaningful and powerful.  Has reading the mission statements from the people in this project inspired you to write your own?

"I'm a good listener," Wendy replied, when I asked her one thing about herself she would consider to be a success.

Wendy and I visited for a while after the "interview" and pictures.   This project is making the world even smaller.  When I go to the park, I usually end up seeing several people who have been subjects in this project and we now exchange greetings and well wishes.  Since most of the people I meet at Tabor are there working out, it's been nice meeting new fitness friends and acquaintances.

 

Day 283 - Ryland

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I've seen Ryland and his dog around a few times.  I've even tried to chase after him once, but he was peddling way too fast for me to catch.  There's only so many footsteps you can take when you chase after a person before you cross that line from simply trying to catch someone's attention, to being a weirdo who is, well, chasing after someone!  This time, he and his dog were going slow enough for Ryland to see and hear me when I called out to get his attention.

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There were several other dogs around, and some traffic, at the time Ryland stopped so he decided his dog would be most comfortable just hanging out in its crate-trailer.  Ryland and I talked about how much we appreciate and enjoy the park.  He and his dog were on their way to go watch the sun set.  (Watching the sun set from Mt. Tabor Park is one of the very best activities in Portland.  It's worth putting on your must-do list.)

"I'm getting to climb a lot," Ryland said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

Ryland was having difficulty remembering if he had performed a recent act of kindness.  He seemed like a considerate and nice enough person, I knew he must have done something.  I pushed a little, explaining it could be any gesture of kindness.  He remembered that, earlier, he had held the door open for a person.  Yes, as simple as this is, isn't it a great act of kindness?  I love it when people take that extra moment to hold the door open for you and share a smile.

Ryland's personal mission statement is a quote from the poem, Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver, "you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."

When I asked Ryland something about himself he would consider to be a success, he replied, "I convinced Vanessa to marry me."  I thought he and his wife must be newlyweds for such a sweet sentiment, but he said they'd been married about three years.  We then tried to decide on a definition of "newlywed," and decided three years is still the "newlywed" phase.

 

Day 284 - Matt

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This is Matt.  We met downtown Portland, near PSU.

I asked Matt the happiest thing happening in his life right now, and he responded, "my daughter."

"To learn everything I can," Matt replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.

When I asked Matt one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, he replied, "my thirst for knowledge."

Matt and I talked a little while longer and I asked him about his hopes and dreams.  He hopes to be able to get to a point where he can afford, outright, to send his daughter to college, and to buy a home.  We talked about his dreams being more grounded and practical than some, but what a beautiful dream.  I'm wishing Matt luck and success in making those dreams a reality.

I don't often get to go downtown but since I had a meeting on the westside after work, I decided to head downtown after the meeting let out.  Matt was just one of a hundred different people within a few block radius who I could have asked to be in this project.  I had the realization that I've had additional challenges with this project, simply because of my routine and location.  If I could spend more time in downtown Portland, I would have thousands of potential subjects.  As it is, it's been quite the challenge to find a person during my routine of: commute, work, work-out, commute home.  Although I love the idea of having hundreds or thousands of different subjects to choose from within a few block area, I've also mostly enjoyed the added challenge of having to actually search for a subject.  It makes me appreciate the process that much more, and makes me extremely appreciative when I do find people who will let me take their picture.  I don't know if this makes sense, but it would almost be "too easy," were I able to spend a ton of time in downtown Portland.

 

Day 285 - Joseph

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This is Joseph.  We met when he was waiting for the bus.  I was feeling like people-repellent this day and was just about to decide this was going to be the day for my self-portrait.  Luckily, I met Joseph and he was willing to let me take his picture!

"I just got a promotion," Joseph said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.

When I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness, he said that some kids in his line at work came up a few dollars short on their purchase, so he paid the difference for them.

I asked Joseph if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.  He was having trouble thinking of one, so I rephrased the question and asked about his life's purpose or hopes and dreams.   Joseph said he has dreams to travel the world.

Joseph was reserved in answering if there was something about himself which he would consider to be a success.  I pushed a little for an answer and knew he must have something.  I was going to remind him about his recent promotion if he couldn't think of an answer.  I again pushed a little and explained if it's difficult to think of something as a success, then what's something you're good at?  "Sports," Joseph replied.

 

Day 286 - Kestrel

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Kestral was waiting for the bus when I sat down at the bench beside him to ask if I could take his picture.  Kestral agreed, but then went on to say that he isn't photogenic.  When people have told me this before, I explain to them that I totally understand and that's the reason I'm behind the camera!  I can completely empathize with people who don't really enjoy having their picture taken.  When I hear of this, it makes it really important to me to get a nice picture.  I want people to feel good about themselves!  I love the picture of Kestral and that you can detect his personal style and hope that if he sees this picture, he will be pleased.  This particular spot is a challenge to me and I struggle with getting the iconic Hollywood sign in the background. One of these days, I'll get it just right and perfectly capture both a nice portrait and a cool view of the Hollywood sign in the background.

When I asked Kestrel about the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he replied, "my partner."

Kestrel's impromptu personal mission statement, "going forward because you can't go back."

I asked Kestrel one thing about himself he would consider to be a success and he replied, "the equity work at the job I'm doing."

I thanked Kestrel and we were on our separate ways.

 

Day 287 - Delray

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This is Delray.  We also met at a bus stop where she and her son were waiting for their bus.

I asked Delray about the happiest thing happening in her life and she replied, "I'm working."

When I asked Delray if she had recently performed and act of kindness, she said that she had just given a woman a bus pass.

Defining a personal mission statement was proving to be challenging for Delray. I had given examples of other people's personal mission statements, but Delray was still having trouble thinking of a personal mission statement.  I presented it a few different ways, and then explained that it's like a personal motto or statement which guides you in living your life.  After hearing it presented in this way, Delray then replied, "try not to sin."

When I asked Delray if there's something about herself she would consider to be a success, she considered the question for a while but she just couldn't think of an answer. She finally explained that she used to think she was successful at being a good mom.  She then gestured to her very energetic and curious son, and said, "but sometimes he won't listen to me now." We talked about it and I pointed out my observation that even though he wasn't  listening, she was still very patient with him, and that's a good mother.  Delray then decided on her answer and replied, "parenting."

Delray is a beautiful young lady and I got the feeling she's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out!

 

Here's a summary of the mission statements of the people from this week:

  • Find a way to be happy.
  • Opening my heart, cultivating love and kindness, and finding ways to be of service.
  • "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."
  • To learn everything I can.
  • To travel the world.
  • Going forward because you can't go back.
  • Try not to sin.

If you've been a subject in this project  - thank you for allowing me to take your picture and for sharing a little of your life with us!  Please don't hesitate to e-mail me if you'd like a copy of your picture and I'd be happy to e-mail it to you.

Thank you for following another week of this project.  I just want to give you the heads up that the next two weeks are going to be pretty bumpy!  They're the busiest two weeks for me at my work.  I'm going to be out of town one weekend, and staying on-site at an event the following weekend.  I'll still post the daily pictures to instagram, @missellanea, but please know the blog post may be a little delayed.  Don't worry.  Everything is ok and I'm not giving up the project.  It'll just be a particularly challenging and busy couple of weeks and I'll post as soon as I'm able to.

Have a great week!