I’m Proud of You

When was the last time you heard the words, “I’m proud of you?”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard plenty of “Nice job”, “Good one”, and “That’s cool!” Though those are great encouragements to hear, they don’t carry the same weight as someone saying “I’m proud of you.” When someone takes the time to say what you’ve done brings them great pride, it’s quite heartwarming.

For many people, the last time they heard the words “I’m proud of you” came when they were a child. In fact, children most likely hear that phrase all the time. 

When they potty for the first time by themselves, “I’m proud of you!”

When they draw within the lines, “I’m proud of you!”

When they get an A on their homework, “I’m proud of you!”

It’s not any less genuine when we tell children, nor is it uncomfortable when we tell them that truth. Yet commonly when we tell people as an adult, “I’m proud of you” comes out as a joke. 

The last time you spoke this phrase to someone else did you didn’t say it sarcastically? I know I did! I have a habit of only saying it in my sarcastic voice as a joke to the person I’m congratulating for what was likely a menial task.  

If I’m honest, the last time I remember saying it to someone seriously was about four or five years ago. I distinctly remember what happened when I said it. I felt so awkward. 

They had just completed a fundraiser at a local school which raised bunches of money. For what, I don’t exactly remember. When I attended the fundraiser as a way to support my friend, I was genuinely surprised by how large the function was. The turnout was high, the donations were higher. Everything went smoothly. 

Everything went according to my friend’s plan. 

I was thoroughly impressed with the classiness and organization of the entire fundraiser! Yet, throughout the whole event, I didn’t tell my friend I was proud of her work. Oh, sure I said, “This is cool,” and, “Wow, what an event!” But nothing to tell her I took pride in her and in her work. 

I waited until I left. I got into my car and started driving back to my place. On the way, I started thinking about the brevity of what my friend did. I thought about how much time she took out of her life volunteering to put everything together and the money she raised! 

I was genuinely proud of her. 

At that moment, I called her. There was no answer, which made it a relief for me. I left a voice message that said something along the lines of, “Hey, the event you put on tonight, was really cool. I don’t know if I can say this, but I’m proud of you. You put in the work and it came out excellently!”

I’m not sure why it felt so awkward to say that. I’m not even certain why I felt as if I didn’t have permission to say it either. In fact, I’m not sure why I had to take a deep breath just to muster the courage to say it on a voice message. 

I don’t think I say it genuinely enough to people. I also know I don’t hear it enough. 

In fact, I remember one of the few times I heard it in my adolescence, I responded with disdain. “Why?” I felt like I had done nothing worthy of pride. I didn’t feel as though I deserved recognition for my efforts. I felt unaccepting of this person’s pride for me. 

I guess that’s the thing about being worthy and deserving, they’re not feelings, they are things you are. Whether you “feel” worthy or not, you are. You are. 

Not hearing a lot of compliments growing up, I became an adult that was quite averse to receiving any type of praise. “I’m not good with receiving compliments,” I’d say to people when they attempted to give me one. If I didn’t believe I earned the praise, then in my mind, it shouldn’t be said. However, I’ve learned to change and to accept the praise, even if I don’t feel I deserve it. 

When a friend recently told me they were proud of me, I was happy to accept it. 

They too felt like it was awkward saying it and we are close enough that they told me it was awkward to say! With a chuckle, we discussed why it might be that we feel awkward went confessing pride for others. 

However, let me tell you, their words were not wasted. Even though I haven’t heard someone tell me genuinely they were proud of me in so long, I didn’t worry about if I had earned it or not. I wasn’t concerned with whether or not I had finished the task they were proud of me for; I simply was grateful. 

Grateful, that someone took time out of their day, to look at what I’ve done and recognize it as good; to take pride in what I was in the middle of, even if my actions would never affect them directly.

I think this is a part of the reason why we don’t tell each other “I’m proud of you,” too often. We’re caught up measuring our own success and searching for our achievements, we forget that every person around us is doing the same. We don’t recognize the growth around us because we’re likely comparing it to our own, hoping that we’re on top. People are going at their own pace and finding success in their own way, whether we recognize it or not.

I like to think that when we’re spreading good to one another, it’s taking a break from ourselves to recognize the work of another human. Maybe they’ve grown in maturity since you’ve first met them or perhaps you noticed they’ve found a nice flow to live their life. Or perchance, they’ve found their passion and are relentlessly chasing it. For others, I’m sure their ability to resist some temptations is reason enough to have pride in them. 

Whatever you’re currently working on, going through, or just finished your ‘thing’, let me to you, I’m proud of you. 

Persistence Leads Your Forward

Sometimes, I’m amazed at where persistence leads some individuals.

It’s absurd that we think that people just happen upon certain destinations or places in life. As if they lucked their way into where they are. We are more likely to believe in random good fortune bringing them there, rather than persistence and hard work paying off.

From time to time, I think of musicians, especially young ones.

Each day, I listen to my niece and nephew play the same songs over and over again. Though they play the same songs each day. To be frank, it doesn’t always sound good. Some days it sounds rushed. Other days it sounds like they’re just prolonging it because they are not paying attention to where they are in their music sheet. Yet, when the time comes for their test with their teacher or recital in front of so many people their performance sounds like actual music!

I’m impressed each time they play something and it sounds perfect.

Honestly, I am not sure why I’m impressed. Seriously, I see them play every single day. It makes no sense why I should be impressed at their end result. If they played once a week or month, then performed amazingly, then I should be impressed. Instead, each day, they’re playing these songs. Over and over again. I should expect their persistence to bring a great job in the end. 

They don’t always want to be persistent. That is most certain. Sometimes they pretend like they don’t know what they’re playing. Other times, they’ll go very slowly because they’re not paying attention to the sheet music and just lost in their imagination. Sometimes, they play at their parent’s persistence. Which is so key!

It is not always our persistence thank pushes us forward, at times its the persistence of others that pulls us forward.

Think of all the people that go to the gym alone. They work hard towards their goals, and when they persist, they achieve them. Now, think of all the people who go to the gym and get a trainer. They gain persistence, from someone keeping them accountable. That persistence helps them achieve their goal. Persistence is like that. 

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister. I asked her if 10 years ago she foresaw herself being where she is today. Without skipping a beat she plainly said, “Yes.”

I was caught off guard and surprised by her response. Most people cannot predict the future, so I wondered how she could so confidently see herself in this position of life 10 years before it happened.

“How can you say that so matter of factly?” I asked.

“I set goals and I work on them.” She responded in yet another matter-of-fact way.

I’ll admit, between the two of us, she is more straight to the point than I. I have the more flowery speech. After some nudging, she gave an explanation of her thought process.

“I saw myself here because this is where I want to be. I set out a path for myself, my marriage, and my family years ago. I agreed with my husband on where we wanted to be, what we wanted to be doing, and set the goals to get there. I am not surprised we’re here because we were persistent on each and every one of them.”

Wowzers!

In more than one way, she has a point. Like I shouldn’t be surprised about my niece and nephew getting better at playing the piano, she should not be surprised at the result of her persistent goal setting.

I don’t think any of us should ever be surprised at the result of someone’s persistence. The place we are all in is from some sort of previous persistence.

The student persistently studying isn’t surprised when they earn good grades. A thief isn’t surprised when they are arrested, they persistently pursued that which wasn’t theirs. The person who takes time to learn about their family and spends time with them isn’t surprised that they are close to their family.

For my personal life, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am understanding more Spanish when I practice everyday. I shouldn’t be surprised when my podcast gains more listeners when I’m constantly posting it online for people to see. 

I also shouldn’t be surprised of my knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when I sit down and watch movie after movie twice or even three times. 

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be posting my goals for the year. Goals that I believe will take me places.

Goals that will take me to places I want, if I am persistent with them.

2020: My Phrase of the Year in Review

For those of you who followed my blog at the beginning of the year I announced my phrase of the year, which is linked below.

Because, obviously all of you remember it, let’s say it together, with charisma: SHOW ME SOME (FLUFFY) PASSION!

It was quite a good one if you ask me. 

As this year is coming to a close, I figure it’s time to review my phrase and how I applied it throughout the year. However, this year wasn’t quite like other years. So…

Like much of the world, I spent plenty of time in lockdown doing my part to save my little piece of the world by staying at home. Of course, like many others I spent a lot of that time with my good friend, Netflix. The selection of shows on New Zealand Netflix is pretty good! 

If Netflix was my passion, I followed it down every genre they offer.
Thankfully, I have more passions than Netflix.

Other things I did while the world was in timeout include creating a photography studio. Studio KBC, as I like to call it, started because of a flood. After a series of hard rainy days in Christchurch, the room I was living in with five other individuals began to flood. Eek! 

As I helped empty bag after bag out of the room, we were all grateful to see nothing of consequence was ruined by the water. When we took out the carpeted tile pieces on the ground, I began to see how empty the room was. Then I noticed the room was quite long as well. This triggered an idea for me. 

You see, a month or two before this, I called, emailed, and stopped by a local photographers office for a job. It was a studio gig that I was excited about purely because the idea of working in a studio is an experience I lack. Despite my persistence, I didn’t get the position. 

Ultimately, in a phone conversation the photographer told me my photos lack creativity. 

And I took that personally! 

As I stood in the empty wet room, I thought to myself, this is my studio. The water was drained, but no one was allowed to live in there any longer. I took the opportunity to find all the black sheets and blankets in the hostel. Then I found all the clips and I wasn’t offered the job in the studio, but I was going to make my own. 

Creativity is my passion. I was definitely on track here.

Oh, I didn’t stop there. During the six weeks, I emailed about 300 different companies, yes, 300, asking them if they were in need of a photographer. You know how many decided to hire me? Guess!

Zero. Literally None. 

Did that deter me? No. Alright, maybe a little, but I’m a resilient person. 

Turns out, the hostel I was living in enjoyed the pictures I posted on my personal instagram and offered me an opportunity to do the same for them. The owner then introduced me to other companies who needed a photographer and web designer for their company. I showed myself some fluffy passion, and became a travel photographer. Something that was only a dream for such a long time. 

My vocation as a photographer is a passion and I followed through on it.

I didn’t only have passion in my professional life. I showed some passion in my spiritual life as well. Previous to the pandemic, I attended a great little church in Christchurch. They were a giving church, always trying to help the people in their city. I loved it. 

However, someone else told me about a church called Majestic. I searched for them on instagram. Cuz bruh, its 2020, and that’s a new standard for me when looking at churches. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the most creative content I’ve seen in New Zealand. Not just for a church or organization, but just in general. Whoever does it for them there, does a fantastic job. I also saw that they were going to have Erwin McManus as a guest speaker. Mr. McManus is the pastor of Mosaic church in Hollywood that I listen to very often. After seeing that, you could call me a fish, because I was hooked! 

I sincerely apologize for that pun. It was bad, very bad. 

When I arrived I met artists. Plenty of them. Photographers, dancers, performers. I was in a haven for children who wanted to explore hip hop, young people who wanted to sing, and adults who wanted to create murals. It was amazing to see a church be so creatively forward. It was almost like the catholic churches of hundreds of years ago. The ones with major stain glass and sculpture work, except in a modern society.

My faith is my passion. So yes, I showed my passion there too.

I only found this church because I pursued my passion. The commitment to the pursuit of it showed me something new in multiple areas of my life. That’s what following a passion does.

Passion leads you to the unexpected.
Passion shows you what you didn’t know existed.
Passion takes you where you didn’t know you needed to be. 

In a year where so many things have happened, none of which went as we may have expected, I was able to thrive in this pursuit. I showed plenty of fluffy passion this year. Though, if I’m honest, I feel like I could have shown more passion on some days. However, I’m happy with that which I’ve shown. 

I can move into 2021 more confident in my ability to show passion than I was a year ago. 

Now…time to think of a new phrase. 

I’m Back in the US!…Now what?

It’s December 1st as I start to write this. I’m in Sacramento, California and just a few short months ago, I did not expect to be here. 

Coincidentally, I mentioned to my sister in January that it would be very cool to be with the family this year for the Christmas holiday. You see, because of jobs, traveling, and moving to another state, I physically been with my whole family on Christmas Day in eight years. 

That’s quite the streak if you ask me. 

In that discussion with my sister, I spoke while I was celebrating a birthday on a hike in Wanaka, New Zealand. I knew that in late October of this year, both my brother in law and sister would be celebrating their 40th. (Happy belated birthday!) Our father would be celebrating his 60th in mid December. (Happy early birthday dad). And finally, my 30th would come mid January. 

To me, spending a portion of December celebrating all of those birthdays and a Christmas seemed like the perfect combination! I spoke that idea thinking that I would have a job by then that would pay me enough to afford a round trip flight to California. 

However, plans changed!

Less than two months later, I was enclosed with 27 of the best people to be stuck with during a global pandemic. Stunningly, I didn’t know a single one of them more than a month before we spent lockdown together. Yet somehow, it was perfectly splendid. 

Once the locked ended in New Zealand, I started working. Putting my talents to work for various companies, I was taking my photography to anyone who would look at it. A local wine bar said yes to hosting an exhibition for my art! I found my way into a conversation with a member of the board of directors at the Art’s Centre in Christchurch. After the discussion, we agreed to photography studio operated by me. A studio of my own! What a dream come true.

However, plans changed.

Once I found out I needed to leave New Zealand, it was less than 12 hours that I had a fully fleshed out plan about leaving the country. It didn’t come easily. I spent plenty of time thinking and feeling the stress of booking a flight quickly. I received two potential offers for sponsorship on a working visa and therefore staying in New Zealand. But, just like I mentioned, earlier in the year I spoke my desire to be with my family this holiday. I had a feeling that I would need to be here. My sister was having a baby, and I would very much like to be present for that. 

The idea was come stay with my family through the holidays, then head back to my home in Denver for my birthday. I would search continuously for a job in Alaska, because my next adventure is to be the Pan American Highway, something I’ve spoken about with friends previously. 

However…plans changed.

Now, as I mentioned, I find myself sitting in my sister’s living room in South Sacramento, fully intent on staying in the area until summer; much longer than my original plan. I’ve started a job as a studio photographer. It’s not my studio, but it’s a studio nonetheless! I’m excited. 

I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Within a few days, I’ll be spending my first Christmas with the same loved ones. As I mentioned, it’s the first time since 2012. I don’t know if Santa brings presents at my age. Nevertheless, I’m excited.

As you know by now, I have The Live From Podcast which debuted last week! It’s thrilling for me to create something fresh and new. It’s one thing I didn’t find myself committing to until a friend said, “What are you waiting for, hit the record button now.” Truthfully, I’m excited.

 

So, to answer the question ‘what IS next?’ Well, right now, to be honest, the answer is both simple and complex, simultaneously. Part of the answer is I don’t fully know. The other part is I’m going to live out the plan I spoke out in January.

Right now, I’m going to be right here.

I had some great things going for me in New Zealand. However, things changed, as they do. Now, I have some different great things going for me in California. 

But I still have my eye on that Pan American Highway…