Patience & Understanding

I was slapped in the face with empathy and kindness. I'm gladly sharing the story of my impatience. 

I work at a local running store. I spend most of my time fitting people for shoes with specific needs. Little old ladies, soccer moms, elite runners, weekend warriors. You name it, I've helped them with shoes. People can be picky. That's okay. We're there to help. It's what we do and we're proud to do it. I usually am very patient and understanding with customers. I do my best to create an awesome atmosphere for them to remember. I keep good conversation and take a genuine interest in people sitting across from me.

Today, for no good reason I lost my patience a bit. I pray I didn't show it externally. I hope I internalized it.

My shift ends at 3pm. The last hour of work I get antsy to get home and let my dogs out, especially on a beautiful sunny day in November. Today I had a woman for the entire last hour that was very particular to what she wanted. Again, that's okay. I kept my cool while she tried on a number of shoes and she walked out with a pair she was happy with. 

3:02pm. Shift over. BOOM. In walks a lady. Looks at me, "I need a pair of shoes just like these but not pink. I don't like pink." It was past 3pm. Deep inhale through my nose. "Okay, no problem. Have a seat over here with me."

We tried a couple shoes on that were very comparable to her old pair of shoes, all of which had a little bit of pink trim. "I'm sorry but I just can't do the pink." She was being very kind and patient with me. I wasn't being mean to her, sadly just being short and not very enthusiastic like I usually am. While I did my best to internalize it, I think she felt my tension. "Sorry I don't like pink." I kept the conversation short, unlike usual, trying to get her to focus on the task and get her out the door so I could get home. 

3:34pm. She finds a pair. We walk up to the register. I tell her the total and she hands me her card while telling me she has bought inserts here for her son that plays golf. I recognize the last name and put two and two together. It broke me. 

She is the mother of two guys I went to high school with and knew pretty well. Her older son had been missing for some time and after spending weeks sleeplessly looking for him, she had learned that he had overdosed on heroin and fentanyl. Here, I'm rushing her out the door in a hurry to get home because I worked an extra half hour. She buried her son. I can't imagine the weight she carries every day of her life.

I broke down but kept from crying. "I'm so very sorry for your loss. I went to high school with your sons and I'm so very sorry." 

We talked for the next fifteen minutes. She told me the story in detail and I could see the pain in her eyes. I could tell it was comforting to her to have my attention and empathy. I don't know that I blinked. I do know for sure I didn't move a muscle. I felt so guilty and remorseful for how I treated her. I empathized her as my own mother. I can't even begin to imagine. The whole time she had been very soft and patient with me. 

I'm sharing this story, still fresh on my mind because it's so real and so ironic a time to have such a deep moment. What happened today with that woman was something I won't soon forget. You never know someone's story; what they've been through, what they've suffered and endured. People have quirks, people have certain ways of thinking. People are different. People look different. All these things are a product of their environment and experience as human beings. People have a story. I'm so very glad I decided to look at the last name on the card. I'm so glad she told me her younger son played golf. I'm glad I asked and I'm glad she's such a strong, soft spoken person.

A microcosm of our world today. Much like I was in a hurry to get home and not be kind and patient to this women, so often we're in a hurry. We're too quick to judge and too slow to truly connect. Quick to walk away, quick to point fingers. Quick to assume.

I pray we learn to deal more kindly with each other. Hear people out. Understand and empathize our different stories, struggles and how they shape us. Only then will we learn to work together and love each other for who we truly are. 

PEACE.

 

Saucony Comes Through for Josh(y's)

I recently went through a tragedy I hope never happens again, to anyone.

A buddy of mine named Zak Larney was brutally assaulted outside a Cleveland night club late in July and later died after a hard fought battle in the hospital. I'd never wish something like that upon my worst enemy. Knowing it happened to a good person you grew up with is unthinkable and I don't know that I'll truly ever lose the scar. He fathered two beautiful children and lit up every room like you wouldn't believe. He was an incredible father and human. He was someone I always respected and looked forward to seeing. He will be deeply missed.

If you'd like to read more about the incident, you can follow the link HERE. I'd rather move on. 

Zak's younger brother Josh was one of my best childhood friends. We were always goofing around and causing some kind of trouble or just being obnoxious. Zak was always there to put us in our place and I can honestly say he helped mold me in some ways. I was terrified of him then but I look back on it and wish I could thank him. He was in many ways an older brother to me. 

When I heard of Zak's passing my thoughts immediately went to Josh and the Larney family. I was shattered. How the hell could they be handling this? Could they handle this (I'd later find out that YES, they are incredibly strong. I can honestly say I've never seen someone so strong as Zak's mom Debby during the funeral service. I'm holding back tears of raw emotion thinking of how strong she was and continues to be. I couldn't believe Josh's composure either.)? How do you be there for someone in such a situation, such a tragedy? It needed to transcend words. "Sorry for your loss", just wouldn't cut it this time. I needed Josh to know he was and will always be family to me. Something out of the ordinary.

Josh and I had a lot of jokes growing up but one really stood out. Josh had always been a sneaker head (someone who loves shoes) and he had always joked around about having his own shoe brand called, "Joshy's". We had an ongoing dialogue of what people would say when new releases of the shoe brand would come out (I really should attach an audio clip of some of the stuff we would say). "Hey man, you snag them new Joshy's? Them boys is hot." We'd crack up every time. I'm not entirely convinced Josh isn't still considering it...?

 

I have a friend who works on the production side of things at Saucony headquarters in Boston. I had an idea. I thought long and hard before I finally pulled the trigger and sent him an email that said something along the lines of "I know this is probably not realistic but I'd be willing to pay anything to have Saucony produce a pair of Joshy's", the whole time thinking I'm wasting my time as well as his. I just had to ask.

Within a matter of hours I got an email back from my buddy (he wished to be left anonymous) asking what colors Josh liked, what sizes I wanted them to make and that the team at Saucony was already on the job. He had read through Facebook about the tragedy and said he saw it as an honor and opportunity to give Josh any bit of happiness. "We're happy to help. I'll give you an ETA of the Joshy's as we just sent out the design. Should be a fairly quick turn around". 

In a matter of weeks I had a package on my door with not only one pair of what I thought to be an impossible request in a pair of shoes but three, totally custom, incredible pairs of Joshy's designed by the unparalleled team at Saucony. One of which wouldn't even be released to the public until December (several months later). They really outdid themselves, jumped at the opportunity to help someone out and went over the top. I truly don't know that I could ever repay the team for the kindness they showed Josh and myself. 

In a world where we move so fast and production and progress are priority, it's an incredible thought to know that a big name like Saucony is willing to kneel down and make a difference at such a personal, intimate level. Thank you so much. 

If you'd like to consider a donation to Zak's family please follow the link HERE

Please pray for the continued support and well being of the beautiful family Zak has. Rest easy.

As for you, Josh. I got two more things for you:  

Breaking the Ice

Breaking the ice for what is hopefully a great platform to rant and write about, well...anything.

People have asked me for photography services, to order prints and to collaborate on projects for several years now, much of the time with a head nod left to right. It's not you, it's me. That's the excuse, right? But really, I've often times turned down weddings, events, opportunities and selling my work simply because I was lacking confidence that my work was worth any monetary value. I'm sure I offended several people along the way and I apologize for that. It hurt me more than it hurt you. If you're someone that asked me for any services and never heard back from me or received a "no" in reply, I hope this gives you resolve.

I'm ready to move forward and whether I have the confidence or not is to be determined but I love photography too much and capturing photos for people to hold on to forever to not pursue it more aggressively. I absolutely live for the raw emotion you can freeze in time. Whether it be someone so passionately pursuing something, a vast mountain landscape as the sun is setting or capturing one of my dogs jumping in the water down at the lake, I can't get enough of it.

I've upped my camera body and lens game recently, I've recreated this website with a more aesthetically appealing format (or at least I think) and I'm excited for what it may bring. I'm motivated. Hard work, collaborations, networking, a little money or just a good time...I'll even take any negative feedback or distaste for my portfolio! Bring it on.

On top of the photography and visual arts, I'm also really looking forward to using this side of things. I LOVE to write and much like photography, the confidence lacked and so I refused to start a blog. I hope you choose to follow along as I'll use this blog not so much for photography related topics but more my daily rants and opinions (I can finally stop posting long statuses to Facebook). 

I hope you're living well and at least one of my photos or one of my blog posts gives you the feels all the way down to your bones.