Inspiration

The Other Half of Stories : An interview with NatGeo photographer Ami Vitale

Photo by Ami Vitale

Photo by Ami Vitale

(From Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast)

In war-torn Gaza, Ami Vitale was asked to “focus on the violence.” Then, one day, while her and all the other photo journalists were capturing kids throwing rocks and soldiers bullets, Ami heard music. She followed it. And found a wedding.

“Why aren’t we telling these stories too,” she thought, “the ones that allow us to relate to one another as human beings.” She suddenly realized she was telling a lie, because she was only telling half the story. “There were all these other stories around us. Stories that allowed us to relate to one another as human beings, {stories} that allowed us to connect” by reminding us that we “share the same things on this planet.”

“As a journalist,” she continues, “I was being asked to create more fear and polarization on this planet and see those people as other and different than us. The truth is, it was just a beautiful young couple wanting the same things that we all want in life. That was when I stopped and asked myself, ‘Why aren’t we telling these stories too?’”

From then on, Ami Vitale changed the way she tells stories. She still captures the hard and terrible ones because that is still very much a part of life, but she also seeks out the beautiful and hopeful, the ones that inspire and spark joy, because those too are a part of life. And Ami Vitale wants to provide a balance and reminder “of our connections”, that we are all human beings on this world, longing for the same things, eager to tell and share our stories.

Our world could use a lot more people like Ami Vitale.

You can listen to her full interview at Wild Ideas Podcast or watch her How to Photograph Hope presentation for NatGeo Storytellers Summit.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  : Podcasts : Inspiring Art

Loved By All: The Story of Apa Sherpa

The true beauty of Nepal isn’t the mountains, but the people who live in their shadows.

Every spring, Mount Everest draws in people from around the world to conquer its peak. Despite the riches surrounding the highest point on Earth, the Sherpa people who live in its shadow remain poor with few educational opportunities. One man hoping to change this reality is Apa Sherpa, a child of the Khumbu and world-record holder for summiting Everest. Like many before him, Apa Sherpa was pulled from home at the age of 12 to work on the mountain as a high-altitude porter. Now, the Apa Sherpa Foundation is working to create a different future for the children of Nepal. As Apa says, "without education we have no choice” (via).

There’s something truly great about this story. A man who has accomplished (21 times!) what others spend years training for, dreaming of, and then risking their live’s to conquer, looks at his life and believes there’s something bigger and better. That his days on top the world are not enough.

He then chooses to spend his life serving and caring for others, and is satisfied. Because The true beauty of Nepal isn’t the mountains, but the people who live in their shadows.

You can watch more “short documentary films from around the world selected by the National Geographic video team” (via).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiring films about Humans  :  Inspiring Art  :  Documentaries 

Calvin and Hobbes head out on an adventure

The first of anything is difficult. Even, sometimes, if you’ve been doing it for a while. For me, the first post of the new year is completely nerve wracking. There’s something about the first post that seems to set the tone, and it always makes me incredibly nervous. Sometimes I just dive in, like I’m jumping into a cold pool and I just need to get it over with. Other times I take my time, waiting for the perfect idea to come along.

This year, it took just over two weeks. But the wait was worth it.

On December 31, 1995, Bill Watterson published the final 'Calvin & Hobbes' comic strip. Little did he probably know how his little cartoon would inspire, encourage, and entertain the world.

Or inspire the beginning of a new year.

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It’s a magical world, and I’m ready for another year of exploring all that it has to offer, are you?

How creativity comes from the unexpected

Love this video.  

Its easy to get lost in the art and lose his words, but listen carefully. His process of creating is inspiring, and encouraging.  

“I had no idea what this animation would be when I started, and that’s really my big tip. If you’re ever feeling stuck or blank creatively, take a step into the unknown and start doing something . . . until it starts your interest or sparks an idea, and then build on that.”

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Art

Three (plus two) favorite quotes from You Are A Badass

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“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”

I just finished this book a few weeks ago and, to be honest, it wasn’t earth shattering. But it was a good reminder - a great reminder even - that I am a badass, and so are you. We just need to get rid of the many obstacles that we set in our way.

To help (inspire and save you time, if you can’t read the book), here are a few write-em-on-a-notecard points of encouragement that you can post on your frig, your dash, your workspace, or anywhere else you find yourself thinking and procrastinating.

In no particular order:

  1. “If you wanna stay stuck in the same place and keep getting spanked with the same lessons over and over, be negative, resentful, and victimized. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn . . . write your thank-you notes!” (pg 120).

  2. “Sometimes the road to freedom lies in deciding you’d rather be happy than right” (pg 125).

  3. “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse” (pg 153).

Favorite quotes that were quoted:

  1. “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past” - Lily Tomlin

  2. “We tiptoe through life trying to safely make it to death” - unknown

For more favorite quotes click here.

For more on . . .

Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Going Fishing : A Stop Motion Animation by Guldies

Made in the desk in his bedroom, Going Fishing is composed of 2500 still pictures (4530 taken) played in 18 FPS. It was shot with a Canon EOS 600D, animated in Dragonframe, and edited in Photoshop and Sony Vegas. The sound effects recorded with a Blue Yeti with a few downloaded from freesound.org (via).

A lot of that I don’t understand, but sifting through 4530 pictures, editing and composing 2500 of those and then creating this masterpiece of a film I do understand, and I love it.

And I’m inspired by it.

As a (perhaps want-to-be) artist, these little adventures of creativity always stick with me because I’m so judgmental of myself. Who’s gonna read that? or Why does this even matter?

But then I watch Going Fishing and I’m reminded that people are drawn to people who have passion, to people who create rather than destroy, and to people who - no matter how - try to make the world a better place.

And that is an encouraging though.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Stop Motion

Do something great

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My wife sent me this photo on the same morning I listened to this podcast, Do Meaningful Work and Change the World with Adam Braun, "the CEO & Co-Founder of MissionU, a debt-free college alternative for the 21st century that CNN called 'perfect for young people who are eager to launch their career'" (via), and I truly enjoyed it. 

One of the more inspiring, or challenging, portions of the podcast came at near the 30 minute mark. It's his last interview question to anyone wanting to work for him and his ideas. The question is, "What do you consider to be your single greatest success that is unrelated to your career or your family?"

I asked this question to a few friends of mine and, as intended, it engaged us in a lengthy personal conversation about life. Mainly because we disagreed with the question, "There isn't time or energy for much work outside of my career and family!" And maybe that's okay, because the point of the question is to get to know someone, beyond the job, and find their deeper purpose, their deeper self - not what they did. Because it gets to the question of character. 

So when we struggle to find an answer outside of teaching or parenting or husbanding, that's okay, because we're not bragging about what we've done - our simple accomplishments - but the moments of growth, of inspiration, and of where we've been able to see where our work, our ideas, and our presence has been able to change the world. 

What would your answer be?

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living   Favorite Podcasts

How to Keep Going

image by Austin Kleon

image by Austin Kleon

I really appreciated this talk by Austin Kleon. Not only does it inspire and encourage any artist who struggles with endurance and purpose, it's also pretty poignant to life - as all good art should be. 

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" How we answer this question is not only how we live our lives, it's our art.

But what I like most about the mindset of creativity within a Groundhog Day world is the insulation of pretending like there is no tomorrow. That there's no chance of success nor is there chance of failure, "there's just the day and what you can do with it." 

Damn. That's good.

I was also challenged by number three, "forget the noun, do the verb." 

Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without doing the work. Forget about being a writer . . . 'follow the impulse to write.' Because if you let go of the thing you are trying to be . . . and you focus on the actual work you need to be doing . . . it will take you some place further and far more interesting. 

But really, the whole thing is pretty fantastic.

Here's a list of his 10 Ways to Keep Going

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"Everything you need to make extraordinary work can be found in your ordinary life. You just have to pay attention to it."

Here's a similarly inspiring chart, Successful VS Unsuccessful people, and the habits that define them.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships 

A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

We are all time travelers, journeying together into the future. Let us work together to make a future a place we want to visit.

 

Using various lines from various speeches, melodysheep has put together an truly inspirational video that celebrates the "life and message" of one of the greatest minds of our time.

He also has videos celebrating Princess Leia, Robin Williams, and science

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff   :  Inspiring Art

Born of Accidents : Free-Diving Under Ice

There is no place for fear, no place for panic. No place for mistakes. Under the ice, you need total control.

Johanna {the film} was born of accidents. Nordblad {the swimmer} began free-diving after suffering an injury; she was required to submerge in freezing water for treatment. Derry {the filmmaker}, too, suffered an accident and received a settlement, which he used to fund the film, his first directorial effort. “I wanted to do something positive from the negative,” the filmmaker told The Atlantic. “When I think back, it was quite fortuitous that accident happened" (via).

"Wanted to do something positive from the negative." I like that. Love it actually. And I love how Derry's intentionality to embrace or prepare for the negative allowed him to create - to succeed.

“This is not something you can do without a proper approach," Derry explains, "Safety was paramount. We needed a safety team in and out of the water, so we had to be very precise.” He and his team needed to be intentional.

"The main enemy," according to The Atlantic, "was the cold, which drained the camera’s batteries during the first two minutes of filming. Later, in the -16 ºC air temperature, the camera froze. Water leaked into the monitor" (via). 

Despite the various setbacks, or rather, because of Derry's intentionality towards the various setbacks, they couldn't destroy him and his team from capturing "the serene beauty of Nordblad’s sport." And there's something very convicting, very challenging, about that approach to circumstances and to life.

When days or seasons or life seem born of accidents, embrace the setbacks and make something beautiful.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships  On Living