Day 263 In the Pursuit of Love (Dream Big — Part Two)

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falllakeneatahwantaYesterday, I wrote a post that it never occurred to me to become a photographer, although I felt that nature photographers have the BEST job in the world. I find nature photography: exciting and meditative and rejuvenating and healthy and joyful…. and yet I never pursued it as a career. Today, I wonder why anyone would pursue a career unless it was exciting and meditative and rejuvenating and healthy and joyful…?

As I look back at the  past half-century I found some clues what took me so long:

foggymorningFamily Storytime

Family storytime involves important sentences like this:

“Hon, how was your day?”

I’m talking important at a level higher than that you took the time to acknowledge your spouse. Your kids are listening to the answer to this question.

Are they hearing statements like:

The boss is a jerk.

I can’t wait for the weekend.

Only 3,663 days to retirement.

I need to de-stress before we talk about my day.

sunsetlakeneatahwantaOr are they hearing statements like:

The most fascinating thing happened today.

I feel like I could fly.

I can’t believe they pay me to do this job. It is so much fun.

Most of my relatives worked shift work in factories. Work was something you got through to get the paycheck to pay the bills. They lived for the weekend and vacations.

I was often told, I could be anything I wanted to be — there were no limits. But my family was totally unaware that I absorbed all of the family theme that work is drudgery.

To honor my family’s story — how could I possibly — go walk in the woods and take pictures — and enjoy myself and call that a job?

cormorantlakeGenerational Storytime

In my family and my friends’ families, the older generations drilled one thing into our heads — YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER LIFE THAN US!!!!!! In my family, the biggest “improvement” I was expected to make was in my level of education. Many of my family didn’t graduate high school and I think only my Uncle Bill who didn’t live around me — graduated college.

We didn’t have much money but if I needed something for school — a way was always found to make it happen. When I wanted to do an internship but had no car — my cousin took a vehicle off the blocks, in the his backyard, and worked on it till it would run and gave it to me.

When I got my bachelor’s degree, my dad could barely contain his joy. Beaming at me, he said “And now you can get your masters.” And when I got my masters, he was more excited still. “So when are you starting on your PhD?” My dad saw my diplomas as a way to throw open all the doors of the world. He saw all that education as a way to achieve my dreams.

I guarantee you that if my parents ever knew that their Generational Story — that a better life means a diploma — would take me away from my passion — things would have been different. Instead of a $100 calculator for AP Chemistry — I would have had a tripod or new lens.

coyoteSocietal and Gender Storytime

These could easily be two different themes but being a female in the 70’s they are really the same for me. I knew I loved nature and animals. I was already bucking the societal norms by being a girl who loved science. From 7th grade until I received my Bachelor of Science diploma, I had two female science teachers. But at least there were a few role models.

questionmarkrhlWhen I watched nature documentaries on TV — I saw men taking the photographs — climbing on cliffs and diving in the ocean. I didn’t get to see or hear women tell stories of how they pursued careers in photography. Remember this was pre-internet — so my role model pool was very limited.

No one led the way — and introverted me — never thought of being a trail blazer.

My advice to anyone looking for a job they love — get rid of all the other voices — all the other stories in your head. Listen to your heart. And then make up a story of your own. A story where you achieve your big dreams and you squash your fears and live your passion.

Love,

Colleen

P.S. I know I promised to speak of the difference between my gift and my purpose — maybe tomorrow?!

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