We are finished with 31 Stories of December! I am so thankful for this amazing experience of photographing people, hearing their stories, and sharing these stories with people around the world. Thank you to each and every one of you who shared a part of yourself to make this project possible! Each image below is linked with the original post with images and text from the individual. Click through and enjoy it all over again! I am looking into doing another portrait project in the month of February - looking into the lives of the homeless in Washington D.C. Please join me again then to hear and see those stories. Thanks again, and a happy new year to all!
I’ve always drawn faces and figures whether it was during class on notebook paper or in sketchbooks. I don’t know why I’ve always been so drawn to the human face, but I always keep coming back to it. I think it’s because I find people to be the most curious and complicated subjects to learn and study through my art. Part of my process involves taking photos of people and other imagery that strikes me at the moment and using them to create works that explore my relationship with myself and others as I perceive them in a new way from how I’ve rendered them. Representation isn’t the goal. While I make work, I try to notice what gets subconsciously added whether it’s a certain line quality or odd color combination.
My current favorite mantra is “lean into it”, because it inspires wholehearted action and disregards any reservations. There are certainly times to second-guess yourself, but there are also times that require us to act boldly and take chances. This bold action may be confronting a fear of public speaking, or simply dedicating an inordinate amount of the weekend to a business idea.
I almost had a really horrible life.
I wouldn't have known it was horrible, of course. Like people who live their whole lives and never get to each chocolate (does that even happen?), I wouldn't have known about the great things that I'd never had.
I loved moving around. I loved meeting new people and living and new places. I didn't understand the concept of homesickness. How could someone miss their house when all this new, fresh, undiscovered world was outside? I loved reinventing myself and not being pigeon-holed as a certain type. In each new town, I could decide how I wanted others to view me. At times it was difficult to always be the new girl, to make new friends, and to leave said friends, but I believe all of the transition in my life gave me infinite amounts of patience, the ability to adapt and be flexible, the willingness to try new experiences, and to not be afraid of being alone.
In a world that is increasingly divided and suspicious of difference, I want to keep on reaching out to others by building bridges and embracing difference. In the face of fear and distrust of the “other”, I strive to embrace an hopeful vision of inclusion that affirms our common humanity.
Instead we create a home base. We try to reflect back to them who they are becoming and speak in love about the truth we have learned. We keep it basic so they will head out to pursue their own dreams and adventures.
Growing up, you assume the world is the way it is and how it should be. But that’s a really limiting mindset. If you notice an inconvenience while doing something, try to think of a solution that can help people facing the same problem. Everything around you was made by people that weren’t necessarily any smarter than you, and you can build your own things that change and influence other people’s lives.
I now have some resolution as I feel a new depth of compassion and empathy towards patients I encounter as a medical student, and more specifically, people with mental illness.
For me, there has been a similar struggle in my pursuit of education and medicine. Each step is harder than the last, as I continue to select myself into an increasingly smaller group. Reaching the next level becomes more and more difficult. The longer I play, the more I realize that the lines never stop falling and there is always the next platform. It is a daily struggle not to lose sight of why I became a doctor: to help and make meaningful connections with people, often when they are at their most vulnerable. ‘When does my competitive nature need to be culled?’ ‘Do I use my desire to have a meaningful life as an excuse to be lazy?’ These are the questions I wrestle with as I balance the instinct to constantly compete with myself and my desire to live a life filled with joy, connection, and meaning.
I currently have no power, but that's OK.
After first arriving at the place we are staying in Guatemala, we realized that there was no electricity. Despite the pitch black that candles stationed around the house vainly tried to illuminate, my family and I took advantage of the situation. We spent the next day swimming, reading, and admiring the location we were in. It was not until later in the afternoon that the power came back, and we began to celebrate. We turned on all the lights, activated the radio, and began to charge our devices.
While sitting next to my family, listening to Christmas music, we abruptly lost all electricity in our house. Initially I was dissatisfied, having not completely charged my devices. We frantically scrambled around the house trying to light candles, and eventually were able to illuminate the main room. We proceeded to sit, talk, and watch the beautiful view of the volcanic lake in front of us. Sitting there, with such and incredible view of the tranquil lake in front of me, I realized the problem with having power.
I hadn't noticed the lake at all when I had access to electricity.
I now know that power can distract you from what is really important.
What I learned is that for HAM to result in greatness, it cannot just be an unhealthy, overwhelming workaholic lifestyle. In fact, it must be the opposite. HAM, at its core, is about clarity. To be truly HAM is to know what's most important to you and to show up, both literally and metaphorically (being fully present).
Ellie is our youngest daughter. Her name is based on an old French name meaning “battle maiden,” and it fits her perfectly. She is fearless, kind, full of joy, determined, meticulous, and larger than life. We are just beginning to know the details of her character as she learns to speak, but she expresses herself perfectly without words.
She is fearless, and when she is afraid she pushes back fiercely. Once a whole kindergarten class racing boisterously down the hall towards us at her brother’s school startled her. She set her back against her mommy, put her hands up in front of her, and growled. During intense parts in movies, she puts her hands up in front of her, palms out, and yells at the TV. She doesn’t cower; she is completely oblivious to how small she is.
I first learned how to play music by watching others in a guitar shop. I would get random lessons here and there from musicians who wanted to help a kid out. These were my earliest experiences with the musician community.
Since then I have gained a lot from playing music and being part of this community. I was able to make extra income. I made some of my closest friends. Playing music also helped bring me back to church.
On 11th Street is where I really felt that I had “made it.” My first apartment was here. In this neighborhood around U Street is where I stepped out and performed in front of complete strangers in spaces for people who wanted to listen to live music. I also found inspiration in all the incredible artists who would pass through here. I feel at home here.
I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in Ohio during my summers in college, listening to the stories of when they were young. Grandpa always said “life is hard.” I have thought back to their stories often over the past ten years. Nothing that we go through is really new. Life has always been hard. I am so thankful for the time that I have been given. The fact that I did nothing to earn it drives me to work harder for the people that I love.
It guides me to inquire, and be aware of new ideas; it reveals possibilities that may not be evident but above all, I am so grateful for the fun and serendipitous journey it has taken me on.
In the words of Alice Walker, “I think that it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” Life is filled with endless beauty and way more notable ordinary moments than anything else. Real life is not like Hollywood’s movies and that is okay. For me, now life is about taking my time, improving my perspective, and growing in gratitude each day in order to affirm that God is good and that I have been wonderfully made.
Ultimately, I am just a dude trying to do his job well without being consumed by it. I would submit that mine is a uniquely taxing and complex job, most definitely, but it doesn’t abound with transcendent bliss the way that people sometimes think. Angels don’t prepare my morning oatmeal and the taxman cometh for me like everyone else.
But to live with integrity means more than to be good or to be above reproach. At its root, to live with integrity is to live a whole and complete life, with an inner sense of consistency. It means that I can be all of who I am at every moment, regardless of the different hats that I wear.
Life is mysterious. We plan for long lives filled with happy moments, achievements, family and friends. We forget that we don’t know what will happen this afternoon. When we look at Nuelie (short for Immanuel) we remember that God is with us, and we are thankful.