So say you are on a life path. Since we all can only live once, we're all on paths we've never been on before. So, how can we be so sure we know where ours leads?
I suppose that it has to do in part with having a little faith. And, we experiment from time to time along the way; testing the shortcuts on the trail. But we always seem to find it again.
Recently, I've had what are probably irrational worries that I was on the wrong trail, or heading in the wrong direction on it. And was I starting off the wrong way when I was abroad? Or when I returned home?
It's not clear to me. Like this trail above, it's thick and shaded and flat. And even if I did know which direction was the right one, what does that even mean? It's not that I think 'career' and 'children' are mutually exclusive. For me, it's more about whether the direction I'm going is one where few people in my life today will still be able to recognize me tomorrow, least of all me.
I could really continue down this rabbit hole, as it were. But I guess that I'm venturing to say that a little faith and staying true to myself will keep me on the path, going the way toward my goals.
I think we all have lost the path at some point (or are lost now, perhaps) for one reason or another, whether on purpose or incidentally. The trick is to not be frustrated with yourself when you have found yourself astray. And to use your instincts to try and find your way back.
Now, if you're questioning whether you're taking the path in the right direction, that's another thing. And I'll probably talk about that tomorrow. (Yesterday was an awesome reflection day for me.😊)
“You ... take photo .. de white y ... negro a mi?” Her broken English stammered its way through as I realized what she had asked me. I had taken another photo of one of the other workers on the mission base and edited it as a black-and-white. She had seen it over my shoulder as I was working one night. Regina was our main chef for all the food we ate at the mission base. Barely speaking English, she joyfully served every missionary that came through her kitchen. Well, actually - no one was really allowed in the kitchen (except for me the one time I taught her how to cut a mango ☺️). Even though we barely spoke, I found a kindred spirit in her. After I gifted her a copy of this photo, she came to me clutching something small with both hands, like it was a live bird, something precious. She held it out to me. A small piece of wood dangled from a key chain with the word “Nicaragua” carved in it. She paused trying to find the words “For you.. to... remember us”. Some water welt up in my eyes. “Siempre, Regina” — Always, indeed.
I still have this key chain on my pack for whenever I travel. It is a marker to remember the power of seeing people with or without words to guide.
“What a little bugger,” I thought as I caught glances and giggles coming from this sweet one. She was all too enthusiastic about the eduction on exercise class that @brittloukos hosted for the children in the surrounding area of the mission base. Constantly hogging the spotlight and my camera’s eye, she had a flare for the dramatic. I have more pictures of this one little girl than I do of any other kid in class that day. Whenever I got close with my lens, she would do the exercise with the class but then add her own take on it - a tongue out, monkey ears, or just a beaming grin.
She was the epitome of a sun flower - so focused on the task at hand with such joy that you could only have a permanent crescent on your face when making eye contact or even witnessing her exaggerated and laughter-filled movements.
Her joy in the simplest movements made you forget the heat, sleep depravation and language barrier.
It is always the children that remind us of core values and statements that we wished were exemplified more in our lives. This little sunflower was my mirror for doing the task at hand - staying a part of the community but seizing the moment as your own, loving yourself and those around you equally.
A little disoriented and completely out of place, we were welcomed into the our first real encounter with the culture. Church was on Sunday night. Filing into the large space filled with plastic patio furniture, it immediately felt like a hot box. No circulation made the air feel stale. Darting eyes back and forth to the other missionaries, you could easily tell who had been here before just by the ease or lack thereof that each of us carried. Even the natives could feel the newness on you. I couldn't help but wonder how many people they have seen come through, but they knew the same faces of concern, excitement and apprehension. We were told as women not to make eye contact with the men as they may get the wrong idea which we were overtly conscious of our eye placement.
As we sat down, a lovely usher lady came with cloth napkins to drape over the exposed knees of women with too much seen. They ran out of napkins for our group.
When the service began, some of my high school Spanish came back. But one word was undeniable in the tone and expression. "Gracias". I think it was said maybe 30 times in one prayer. It was here I felt the difference in approach. I wasn’t looking at the gapping holes in the ceiling or the lacking sound equipment for worship. I was watching the way these people had reverence to the Lord. He was their everything. And he had given them everything. And they acknowledged that. Even the littlest things, such as an intake of air or shack of a roof. It was seen. It was known. And it was received as a gift.
Missions trips always make you realize how much you have but here my western eyes saw lacking. Their spiritual eyes saw abundance and they thanked God for it.
Repost form @otbcharters:
We brought some guests to a secret beach and blew their minds. It’s a great feeling to see other people experiencing the wonders of the BC coast for the first time...seeing it through their eyes. Reminds us why we’re here.
DM or tag us with #BCOutdoorsMagazine to be featured!
#fishingadventures#islandhopping#boataccessonly#pnw#pnwonderland @sunshinecoastbc @tourismbc @hellobc @altamaboots @sunshinecoastair @mustangsurvival
My first international trip - my first missions trip - my first time taking my skills of photography beyond the walls of a church or among friends and family - one year ago today, I took off for Nicaragua. To say that this trip changed me is cliché but true. To say that I came home a different person is an understatement. What was experienced in a moment took root, and what I caught in fleeting glances, left deep indents seared into soul.
You see it's different for photographers to experience mission trips. Because when you go - you see, experience, talk about it there with friends and then come home talk about it, read the restaurant menu with conviction of availability, be thankful for a warm shower, but over time you answer more questions with a simple "it was really good" rather than with story of those smiling eyes and warms hugs that used to lovingly haunt you in the midst of your amenities.
For me it's this process but a little further - You see - I go, see, capture, experience, talk about it, sit with it, write about it and get to go home. But then, while in a coffee shop with free Wifi - I plug in my computer, download the images and go AGAIN. I see AGAIN. I experience AGAIN - just like it was the first time but again and again and AGAIN.
I feel the dirt under my toes. The sweat rolling down my back. The sticky hands that tug at me. The deep brown eyes gazing. The shrills and shrieks because of geckos leading to giggles. The buzz of mosquitos and cans of repellant. The creaks in the sway of the hammock. And the gentle roar of our team's conversation over, yet again, rice and beans. I feel it all again whenever I look at these photos.
So over the next week, I will be going back again through these images and memories, telling you the stories that still replay the emotions from when I first snapped a shot.
I hope you take my hand to walk with me through this. I hope I can take you with me, back in a time but more so I want you to know this place and these people. Because He told me to "Go and See". So now I that I saw - I tell. Welcome to a week of storytelling.
We were panting and sweating to get up this mountain and this little mouse comes scurrying up - passing all the Haitian men who were sweating it out too - with a 3 gallon jug of water on her head. As she approached me, I turned and called her a “show off”. The translators giggled and told her my humor. I pointed my camera and she stuck her arm out as if she were the greatest showman.
We may have to be a little uncomfortable here - just a warning.
We may have to bend a little in respect to the other.
We may have to stop splitting hairs in the disagreement.
We may have to actually look both ways before crossing the conversation and divide.
Because you are not right - not all the way. Maybe in the facts you are but not in the emotion of it all.
Where you stand is different than where she strolls or where he lays his head at night.
If your security is found in the knowledge of being “right” then I’m sorry to tell you you will always be a little bit wrong. We are never going to have it all the way right. But isn’t that the beauty of it all- that each of us is lacking a little and we have to bend to grow?
Isn’t that the purpose of life to keep learning and growing and empathizing in the others pain?
An outstretched arm does no good with a closed heart. And an embrace does no good with the release in mind.
We do not see easily how our righteousness can be confused with “rightness”. We make it our mission for the other to see our perspective. But they will never truly stand where you will.
So you have to be the one to acknowledge this all apparent yet hidden truth. Listen without bias and speak with understanding, not conviction.
“Bla! Bla! Bla!” They were screaming “White girl! White girl!” when they wanted me to take their picture. So I was stern with the older ones and said, “No Bla- Es Christina”. They giggled and snickered at the fact that I understood enough to correct them. It wasn’t long before the whole school of 700 was screaming “Christina! Christina! Christina!” For a photo as I walked past each classroom. #missionofhopeinternational
For the final week of our tour of Tradewinds offices in the UK. We will be exploring south London. No better place to start then the Wimbledon championships.
Imagine being able to finish your teaching role for the day and head to the tennis for a few of the evening games! 😍
Trying to go quasi "insta" today with some raw images from last night.
Like books, printed photos bring the story or moment to life in a way that a LED screen just doesn't. This reminder was way overdue for me. Sometimes, there are captured moments that are much better unedited and without filter that are worth interrupting your grid for.
Contrary to perhaps much of your opinions, I'm not trying to commercialize this space or have any sort of strong agenda other than "Resilience is a virtue." I hope you're here simply to follow a normal guy choosing to put himself through some pretty unconventional stuff. And if it weren't for some of those choices, I wouldn't have found quite so interesting and diverse groups of good, special folks like this to hang loose with🤙. And maybe I should consider printing my photos so they last long after my battery dies.
Happy Friday, everyone!
The best part about having a big group for a weekend ski trip is getting to hang out together in a big house. The possibilities for fun (at least for me) are almost limitless. Like, posing unsuspectingly for an amateur #Ikea catalog photo. Or, discovering that the one perfect moment where my #FredandFriends Travelamp cellphone flashlight diffuser is actually the perfect mood lighting for a lights-out game of Werewolf. By the way, one of us pictured here was a werewolf hiding in plain sight. Can you guess who it was? #sponsored#ad
(not really sponsored 😏)
Finally managing to do a throwback on the designated day of the week.
So when I was back home in the States last month, I decided to finally crawl out from under my rock and get a Spotify account. After a brief stopover in Kosovo, and then off to Thailand for three blurry days in party mode on Koh Phangan, the gang all made it here to a very chill Koh Tao. While I was snapping photos like this one on our first night, I was listening to this particular song that Spotify found me, called 5:55. Not only does it sound awesome with a great hook, it fit the mood I was in then (and still now).
The artist explains the title on his YT page like this: "There's so much darkness happening in the world today. I was deeply inspired by Jay-Z's "4:44", & I wanted to make a song to remind us that its time to be the light that we want to see in the world. "5:55" is a triple number, it symbolizes that you're going through a major life change. It can also signal that this big change is coming ahead, so prepare for it now. It also means validation that the change you're contemplating is the best direction for you to take. Let's be the change we want to see for ourselves, & choose the light path. Even when it's dark outside."
While it seems to me that every change that I've experienced in the last 3 years seems major, and the ones I'm contemplating in the near-term are also kind of major, I can't help but think that the real decisions I need to make are still beyond the horizon. It's been my gut reaction to sort of fear these decisions (or to fear that I'm not deserving of the pleasure that the later years of life traditionally bear). But, what I do know is that I'm better equipped today to make these decisions than I would have been 2 or 3 years ago because, through challenging myself, I know more about myself and what I'm capable of doing. And, I think that being in-touch like this is helping me to be a better person for myself and for the people around me.
This year is going to be all about continuing to thrive and staying as hungry as I was last year.
Starting off 2018 with even more zest and desire for being somewhere different. But being here in Thailand now is giving me pause to reflect a bit on the last 12 months. I managed visiting 6 new countries last year - all of which are remarkable in their own way. I've met such impressive people along the way who I'm glad took a chance on me when I greeted them as a stranger in that city square, coffee shop, hotel, hostel, restaurant, plane, train, shared taxi, etc.
So, why am I spending loads of money and time off to do all of this? Well, because I vowed to myself to live my best life in 2017. And that meant exploring and pursuing photography a bit more. While empathy for other people has always been something I feel that I've always held, I've been trying to mold that into intention; being an active participant in my own life - having empathy for myself quite frankly. And, while the photos and Stories I share typically show me havin' a ball, my day-to-day reality is just like many of yours - a struggle or perhaps even self-doubt about whether you're in the right place or doing the right thing for your life.
Someone I grew to trust this past year told me that the "right place" doesn't exist, but just that you are in a place and that you have a choice about how to shape your current situation as something or someplace that brings you gratitude. That was a huge lesson for me this past year, and I look forward to perfecting it this year.
(On a side note, I hope you've all been enjoying these photos and blog-like entries. My IG account has only been public for like 6-7 months, which was kind of a big step for me insofar as sharing more of myself and my journey with you all).
The first full Moon of 2018 was a Supermoon, and also the Wolf Moon. Here, the visible ragged crater edges on the western (top) flank indicate this is no longer full - it's technically a waning gibbous. But it's in the single digits out there, I wouldn't be surprised if the wolves are still about!
With the amount of [frustrating] effort it can take to get two dogs to pose just right, it seems always better just to let them be animals.
(I miss you pups. Best holiday trip home, ever. My heart and soul are full again.)
There’s something of the darkness we crave.
There’s something of the unknown we yearn for.
Not to be in danger or peril
And not for the chase or thrill
But we know – deep down, we know
Through the thickness
Through the deep
Through the darkest sections – there is light.
There is light.
There is always light.
And this light is something that can’t be happened upon.
This light is nothing that can be bought or sold.
This light is found.
This light is fought for.
This light is uncovered.
And this light is priceless.
This light is truly who you are.
You are yet to be known and to know.
You brave the destructive and painful because you know
It’s worth it.
It’s within reach.
It will never be regretted.
You are on the other side of the darkness you fear.
You are the light.
I’m not one for landscapes or objects. To each their own and to each their own beauty.
They may be a complete stranger but to me I can see more story and complexity in passing a person than contemplating the heavens. And again, each has their own therapy and vantage point. I only saw this man for about 30 seconds but felt like I got so much of his story in the way he spoke to woman, the grip he had on the bike and stance he took of confidence. If nothing else, I know this man to be determined. And that determination in turn turns to hope. And hope does not disappoint.
Team Peja. In Peja. Drinking Peja. -- Peja Inception 👥💤⏳ . But seriously, I'm thankful for my job because there's no feeling like getting up everyday feeling like your talents are going to be put to their best use and that they're getting better all the time. And it doesn't hurt to be doing it all alongside some quality colleagues.
Digging Deep -- November has been pretty hard so far. What I thought was a little 48 hour bug ended up lasting more than a week because I was overworking myself on this proposal. And I would start to feel more susceptible to eye strain from staring at screens for too long, not eating regularly, and just being generally off balance. But, I went to the gym today for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks and I feel amazing. I stopped off on the way home to snap this image because it just felt fitting for how I've been feeling all month - this sort of momentary absence of passion being replaced with frustration. But, I'm definitely on the mend and really looking forward to the holidays so I can go back to the US for a few days and fill up on love and kindness from family and friends. I just need to dig deep for the next few weeks.
"Bogë Block Party" -- I've been a little sick this week and took a short break from posting. So, I'm working this weekend to catch up on things I missed. And as I was playing some upbeat dance music this morning to get me going, I was thrown back to last weekend in the mountains. The 10 of us were grilling. Our neighbor across the street noticed we were a crowd and decided to start playing Albanian music on his big outdoor speakers. This then brought these curious old ladies down the hill to see what the commotion was about. And things turned into a spontaneous block party. I had the wrong shutter speed. But I was too happy to care. For whatever moments that I've been having where I sometimes ask myself "Why am I here?", they are being replaced with "I'm living my best life."
Steel and concrete crash down the hillside,
maybe didn't break but wanting to hide,
hoping for the creek where it would continue to glide,
but there stopped where motion has forever died,
except for the trickling creek and the seasonal tide,
where the soul and mind can eternally ride.
Be the person YOU want to be, and not the person that other people think you should be. • • • I was first inspired with this sentiment 4 months ago in Greece where 10 people I had just met, over the course of dizzying distances hiked on sunrise and sunset missions to some of the most special vistas I've ever seen, each pointed out to me how I was basically doing a disservice in how I viewed myself. So, they each gave me the blocks to build my "best life" to new heights over the next 16 weeks -- and then to live it and own it fully with substance and without small talk. • • • So, I became a traveler in earnest (an impulsive one, as many friends have told me), logging over 18,000 miles in that time in Europe alone; and camera always in hand. And despite how unconventional it still may seem to people, Kosovo has been my home and where the work that I want to do is. Generally, this is the person I want to be. But, this past weekend, I just wanted to be someone walking in the woods along the Baltic Sea. Because, why not?
This weekend I found myself under a cloudless night sky searching the heavens for the Orionid Meteor shower. I witnessed a handful and it made my heart-full. The world is turning and getting colder. Remember to look around be in awe. Remind yourself what it is to be wonder-filled. Look up and look down. It’s a big world.
Day 6. Haiti. First steps and on the run.
This little boy is seven years old and has never been able to walk on his own... that was until today.
We witnessed him take his first steps.
I helped him walk for a little bit too and asked him if was tired. His heart was beating fast because he was working so hard, but he didn't want to stop. He wanted to go as fast as he could. He wanted to run.
You could say today was a great day.