Personal Legend Project: Kurt Braunohler

01_kb_4091Kurt Braunohler, Comedian

The first time I photographed comedian Kurt Braunohler was at RIOT Comedy Festival in Los Angeles in 2014.  At that RIOT show, his joy and enthusiasm for performing was immediately evident and there was a great connection with the crowd.  That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m looking to document with this series.  So when I heard he was performing at the White Rabbit Cabaret in Indy, I knew this would be a great show to shoot.  And Kurt delivered!

Kurt will be filming his Comedy Central hour standup special on September 24th in Portland, OR.  Keep an eye out for it!

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The following six questions are answered by each subject in this series.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Oh man, Personal Legend seems a tad grandiose for slinging jokes at drunk folks. I just don’t function well in an office, and was willing to do anything to not have to do that for the rest of my life. Including 20 years of failing at comedy.

03_kb_41072)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I guess the first time I improvised on stage in a class when I was 22. I had done acting before and enjoyed it, but when I did my first improvised scene, that was when I thought “oh I want to do this for the rest of my life”.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I lose track of time every time I’m on stage. In stand up its called “running the light” and it’s not a cool thing to do. So I try to be cognizant of it, but time flies when I’m up there.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Gatekeepers. Those people that you have to impress in order to get access to opportunities. I always rankle that one person’s opinion decides my fate so often. And because I dislike that so much I tend to inadvertently go out of my way to NOT impress those people. It’s probably a shitty defense mechanism. But I’m sure it’s hurt my career in the past. So I guess I’M my biggest obstacle.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Do the work. You gotta hustle. You have to always be creating something. There is no resting. There’s that old Zen Koan “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I remind myself of that all the time. It’s easy to think that people are successful because they got lucky or were given something. The more great comedians I meet, the more I realize that these people are great because they are always creating and always working. And working makes you better. It’s tough, and I don’t want to do it often, but I have to.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do it. Try the thing. Take the class. Get on stage. Fail over and over and over again. It probably won’t even feel like failing, because you’re doing it. Being in the arts isn’t like piloting a plane. No one can teach you how to do it – which is tough. But also, nobody’s gonna die if you fuck it up. So just start RIGHT NOW.

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Click here to take a look at some photos from Kurt’s RIOT show in our 2014 gallery.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post new sets of images.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: First Impressions

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“GO BIG!!!” was at the top of my to-do list in March.  I was determined to make something happen.  I started off with a goal of photographing 30 subjects in April.  I doubt anyone went back and counted, but I ended up with 26.  In the past, I definitely fell prey to the adage, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”  I would have quit at the point it appeared that my original goal wouldn’t be met.  Which, honestly, was almost the first weekend…

I booked 4/1 right away, but as more and more people signed on to the project, I couldn’t find anyone for 4/2 or 4/3.  I thought I’d have to scrap the post-a-day approach.  But I kept calling and emailing referrals and people I wanted to photograph, and I found someone on April 1st who was available the next day.  Then on the 2nd I found someone unexpectedly for the 3rd.  There were several times where I had an open date until the last minute and found someone who was available.

This taught me that if you put out into the world what you want, and don’t stop pursuing it, the majority of the time it will come together.  If you just sit and wait, hoping for it to come together, it won’t.  And in the times where something doesn’t come together, it’s because something better than what I intended has come to pass.

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The next major lesson I learned, which almost seems antithetical to the first, is this: If you set a huge goal, don’t throw everything else under the bus to achieve it.

After I started posting this series, when I had already publicly declared I would be shooting 30 subjects in 30 days, I picked up 3 new jobs in April, totaling 5 additional shoot dates.  All of a sudden, these became my new top work priority.  Again, I thought about scrapping the project, but I thought I’d just see how much I could accomplish while still maintaining my standards of product and service for my clients.

Add to this the fact that my wife, Courtney, was 8.5 months pregnant at the time with our 4th child, and it quickly became obvious that something had to give.  It couldn’t be my family or clients, so I had to let go of a couple days of the project.

Had I not set such a huge goal, I probably wouldn’t have shot more than 5 or 6 of these.  But had I pushed mindlessly through to the somewhat arbitrary number of 30, other very important aspects of my life would have suffered.

I need to give a special “thank you” to Courtney.  Without her, none of this would have been possible.  She kept me motivated and never let me give up.  She got in touch with family and friends to ask for referrals and help me find subjects.  She also proof-read every post, often at unreasonable hours.  All of this with another human being affixed to her midsection.

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The first month of the Personal Legend Project has come to a conclusion.  However, I will continue this series on a regular basis, so be sure to subscribe to the blog, and follow me on twitter and instagram to see more of this project and others I have in the works.

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Personal Legend Project: Daniel Elsener

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Daniel Elsener, President, Marian University

My in-laws, Jan & Steve McCracken, are Marian alumni.  As a part of their efforts fundraising for the school, they’ve invited my wife and I to the university’s annual gala a few times over the years.  At these events, I’ve always enjoyed hearing President Elsener speak.

He mentions here the importance of family as a primary aspect of his true calling, and notably, he and his wife have raised nine children. His eloquent words on a subject that is his “true calling” leaves me feeling uplifted and inspired to continue work on my own Personal Legend.  I hope you can also experience this through President Elsener’s thoughtful responses to our questions below.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend? 

First and foremost, my life’s calling is to the married life with my wife and, together with her, to be a good parent. Outside of that vocation, I’ve always been called through prayer and experiences to be a leader in my work which centers around advancing education. As a teacher, I felt called to serve every student and have her/him become something better than s/he would be alone. As a principal and superintendent, I was responsible to do the same with faculty, staff, board members, and donors for both single schools and for entire school systems.

Admittedly, there is an order of magnitude difference in the task of being principal of a school with 500 students and serving as superintendent of an archdiocese with 71 schools that serve 25,000 students, but the calling and responsibility to advance the flourishing of our young people through school program-based education, parental and community engagement, and fundraising support is the same.

I truly do believe that many years ago, I recognized a seed of conviction in my mind, heart, and soul to serve as an educator, and through prayer and experience, I have nurtured that seed and magnified my commitment. Now through my leadership role in the educational sphere, and more specifically through my work at Marian University as president, I am answering my call to further advance the preparation of great leaders for health care, education, business, not-for-profits, civic life, and other ministries.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Even as a young person I had an inkling that I was meant to lead and facilitate people moving to a better place. The experiences I had growing up as a captain, class president, and as organizer of various projects and events in my family life, neighborhood, school, and church gave confirmation to this inkling.

As you grow, especially if you incorporate prayer and reflection, your calling becomes more clear and pronounced. I was told a long time ago by a friend and strong leader that when your intellect and critical analysis; your research and learning; your personal and professional experiences; and your prayerful reflection are synthesized, your calling becomes crystal clear on multiple levels. I’ve found that to be true. When learning, exploration, and lived experience in areas of interest are prayerfully reflected upon at every stage – in advance, during, and following – one’s calling becomes more pronounced, invigorating, satisfying, and clear.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

This is an intriguing question. I never go to work and yet I never leave work. I thoroughly enjoy what I do – I am excited to jump in, to advance our mission, to make it go. I only find myself “outside the zone” when I find myself upset that I can’t get more done because of limited time and resources.

I believe that you only find yourself outside the zone when you lose sight of the fact that you can only do your best, keep advancing, and be thankful for your progress. The greatest threat to the fulfillment of your calling is when you allow your struggles to remove the joy from your vocation or you forget to have faith that through continuous generous and prayerful effort, your greater aspiration will indeed come to be in God’s infinite Plan.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The greatest challenge has always been the balancing act of doing well what you are called to do in different aspects of your life and allocating the proper amount of time, resources and emotions to each and all together. Once the calling becomes an obsession or starts to become something you want to do alone instead of with your Creator or others, you tend to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and become a less joyful servant. Simply, we are not God. Rather, we are God’s feet, hands, heart, ears, and eyes in service to His Plan. This outlook gives perspective and peace of mind.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Pursuing my calling has taught me that being other-centered, ministry-centered, brings with it a certain freedom from concerns about perfection, from a preoccupation with the duration of your time on earth, and from worry about what others may think or judge in terms of possessions, decisions, moves, and/or stances on issues. When you follow your calling, you find yourself at peace.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Give a good deal of thought, prayer, and inquisitiveness in research and analysis to that which interests you and the ways in which you can serve well. Focus on serving well because in serving well you will find the straightest path to happiness. Gain experience and reflect on this experience. I often have students and others say I wish I knew what to do. If you really want to know what to do, build up your life experience by trying different things. It will become more and more clear what brings happiness and benefit to you and others.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Bill Browne

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Bill Browne, Principal/President, Ratio Architects

Bill founded Ratio in 1982 and the firm has gone on to create many iconic Indianapolis buildings such as Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana State Museum.  In reading Bill’s answers to the questions below, it’s no wonder he and his company have been so successful.  Photographing during a design meeting was a fascinating glimpse into the process.  As someone who works alone most of the time, I enjoyed seeing how a room of people can come together to form one, cohesive idea.

Once again, you’ll notice a husband and wife connection here, as Bill is married to Tiffany Benedict Browne, who was featured in the April 24th post.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Without a doubt, my passion is architecture, as I have always believed my true calling was to be an architect.  I enjoy cities, looking and studying their buildings.  I also enjoy learning the history and evolution of urban places.  It has and continues to consume me.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Oddly, I recall at the age of 10 that I wanted to become an architect.  I am not exactly sure what specifically happened in sixth grade, but something about architecture stuck in my head and has stayed there ever since.  My family would routinely go on driving trips around the city and the state looking at historic sites, and perhaps this triggered it.  Or it could have been simply looking at interesting buildings in pictures that got my attention.  I was always drawn to the fine arts; drawing and singing, so in all likelihood it was a combination of several influences that led me to passionately pursuing a career in architecture.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

In some ways I experience this regularly.  I practice the profession daily.  This includes finding design/client opportunities, pursuing them vigorously,  securing the commission, collaborating with my colleagues in their design, seeing it through its construction, and then turning it over to the client. 

I also “chase” new architecture by other architects across the nation, and globe to some extent.  My travels and vacations are rife with architectural tours, finding architectural gems, both historical and new, in very out of the way places, photographing them, learning/studying their details and striving to better understand how this architect solved the client’s desires.  This profession breeds individuals who are so passionate about the work that it is naturally consuming.
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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The obstacles have changed during my career.  It is like climbing a ladder.  Early on it was convincing and demonstrating to clients I/we were capable of designing their building and spaces.  Then it was completing the commissions satisfactorily both personally and for the client.  As the firm gained respect then it became the many business challenges of leading and managing a large architectural practice; talent attraction/retention, keeping a full pipeline of work, making a profit to reinvest in the business, and maintaining high quality of design in the work.  Now the challenge is how to stay relevant and authentic as the profession advances itself in the computer age where virtually anything in design seems possible.

Certainly the elusive challenge will always be the pursuit and completion of the “pure piece of architecture”.  An architect has a vision for a building, but the execution of this vision takes many people to realize.  The details are where the architecture comes to life.  This is also where architecture breaks down when it is not executed or constructed properly.  If all of the details of the building vision are executed perfectly, then the pure vision can be achieved.  This is rare indeed.  I am not sure any architect has ever achieved this, although there are some buildings that without a doubt are very close to accomplishing this goal.  This challenge exists as we start and chase this on every new project.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I can unequivocally state that I enjoy getting up almost every day as I head into my profession.  I love what I do.  It has brought me so much such self-satisfaction and joy.  It has also shown me that I can provide this experience for the colleagues who work with me/us.  

By pursuing my passion, my focus has always been on it and everything else was a result.  Whether it was accolades from the client, peer awards, financial success, or gaining the next commission, by staying true to my passion of creating and producing as high a quality of design for our clients with each project, all of these rewards will fall into place.  Pursing these rewards directly will never result in the same level of accomplishment.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Pursue your true calling or passion with total abandon and vigor.  Immerse yourself such that it becomes part of your very being.  The reward is hard to describe.
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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Lobyn Hamilton

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Lobyn Hamilton, Vinyl Artist

Lobyn is a local artist whose primary medium at the moment is vinyl.  He smashes and cuts vinyl albums and their sleeves into music-inspired art.  A couple of his pieces were recently featured on the set of the hit Fox drama Empire.

It turns out that Lobyn was already very familiar with The Alchemist. He showed me a tattered copy of the book upon my arrival.  Interestingly, Lobyn and I share a birthday (April 23rd). Perhaps because of that, if you believe in that sort of thing, we share some commonalities; particularly a love of music (with similar tastes) and an interest in finding something deeper in life.

Be sure to check out his site:  http://www.vinylrecordartist.com

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

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For me at times it changes so often.  From one day to the next.  As you go and get these new goals and perspectives, you need to reassess what you’re doing.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

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When I went full-time as an artist.  I never thought it was possible to be a full-time artist.  What I used to do as an escape, was now how I made a living, so I needed to find a new escape.  Getting what you want changes everything.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

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Now that this is my job, I’m not “milking the clock” anymore; looking to see when lunch is coming up so I can get away.  To me, “the zone” just happens.  Being in the moment.  I don’t hear anything.  I don’t have negative self-talk.  I don’t have anything but a forward motion of silence.  It’s not positivity or negativity, just “sublime emptiness”.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

It’s all on me.  There’s no one here for me to defer to.  I can’t cop out.  I can’t say, “Go see my manager.”  Every impediment you have now, you’re just slapping yourself in the face.  

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You’re always Michael Jordan at the end of the night…  You always have the ball.  You’re not Steve Kerr passing the ball and setting up the pick.  You have to make the bucket.  You’re the star player.  That’s the hardest part.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

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I don’t panic as much as I used to.  I still have my down days, but I think I have the confidence in myself to say, “I’m going to get this done.”

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

It’s always there…  So, I love scissors.  Ever since I was little.  My mom says I made the first cordless phone.  I don’t use a knife.  I cut my steak yesterday with scissors.  I’ve been drawing since I can remember.  I have a love for music from my father.  It’s already there.  

It’s up to you to build this composition of what you already know that comes extremely naturally to you.   All I did was sling together the dopest shit that I like doing in life that was really basic.  I love scissors.  That’s really basic.  I love fucking up shit, so I was like, “Let’s smash some records up.”  I like breaking sacred rules.  I mean, you’re not supposed to scratch a record let alone beat it to shit.  It’s already there.  I think it’s so simple you almost overlook it.  

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You’re always looking for the billion-dollar idea, but the billionaire wasn’t looking for the billion dollar idea. It was based off a really simple idea.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Tiffany Benedict Browne

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Tiffany Benedict Browne, Author & Historian

On the day I photographed Tiffany, I had the opportunity to witness her enthusiasm for history first-hand.  For part of our time together, I followed her on a tour of the Heslar Naval Armory, which is slated to become a second campus for Herron High School in 2017.  There were many “oohs” and “ahs” as Tiffany saw a multitude of features singular to this building.  The two I found most fascinating were the 4 giant murals in the gym depicting famous naval battles in U.S. history (which the school plans to restore) and the training area…

Walking down the hallway you encounter a door like you’d find in a ship’s hull.  Once you enter, it’s as if you’re inside a ship with all it’s rivets and steel, pipes and controls.  And, almost unbelievably, this entire area could be flooded to simulate a compromised hull.  Whoa!

Tiffany writes articles for various publications and is a historian-for-hire, but her main gig is historicindianapolis.com.  Be sure to follow her site and keep up on all the great stories she uncovers!
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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Inspiring, connecting and exciting people through sharing Indianapolis history.
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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

After moving to Indianapolis, I didn’t know anyone, but had bought my first house — a Victorian in Herron-Morton Place. I wanted to learn everything; to connect with my new city, neighborhood and home. I had so much fun searching for the stories of my house, my neighbors’ homes and then the neighborhood and city. It was such a fun adventure that I started doing research in my free time for other people. I was volunteering for the neighborhood association in a couple of roles as well; it eventually lead to the idea of what would become HistoricIndianapolis.com.
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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m playing detective on a building, person, or long-lost Indianapolis event—so usually in a library, archives or online. I get such a charge from reconnecting pieces that have been largely forgotten. It’s also gratifying to hear from people who have moved away but still have an affection for the city or other people who contact us to share how what we have done has added to their life in some way. One reader created a deeper connection with her dying father by reading him stories from our site as a starting point for a dialogue they hadn’t had before. That is awe-inspiring!

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Finding a model that works financially and otherwise. Many of us in the digital space are still trying to figure out how to make that work. We ask readers who value what we do to become voluntary/paying members of our “Booster Club” and also sell sponsorships with businesses. Despite the common misconception, running an online publication is not free. It takes expertise, time, creativity and money to publish our site.
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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

One of my favorite people, Tony Robbins says “Nothing has any meaning in life except the meaning I give it.” That resonates with me strongly. I think about what I have the honor of doing: digging up stories of the places we pass every day and maybe think nothing about or wonder about. So many things catch your eye when you’re paying attention. We’ve got a big, beautiful city, with so many amazing stories that illustrate the best, worst and everything in between — of humanity, of creativity, innovation, design, gumption — you name it. I LOVE finding little hidden gems, learning every day and the inspiration and connection I feel by hunting down and sharing those stories.
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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

When you find something that delights and frustrates you; that stretches you and asks you to become more; that captivates and obsesses you, you know you’ve found it. And even if it’s something that you never saw on a list of possible future occupations or job titles, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. If you have a dream and vision — go make it happen. Anything is possible. If there isn’t a path where you’re headed, get out a machete and carve one. It also helps to surround yourself with supportive people — even if just one or two. I have found it really helpful to hire a consultant to help me bounce ideas or think through things. Having someone help, even if just to advise, is incredibly helpful.
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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Broxton Bird

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Broxton Bird Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Earth Sciences, IUPUI

Many people dream of traveling to remote mountains of Tibet or Peru.  Broxton Bird is living this dream, except his version involves bringing back dozens of meter-long cylinders of sediment from lake beds.  These cylinders contain about 2,000 years of climate records. Broxton’s work is teaching us about the world’s climate throughout history, which can identify trends and help us to see where we might be headed.

Broxton’s enthusiasm for his work is immediately evident and he’s great at explaining it in a way that doesn’t require a degree in geology or climatology to understand.

Broxton is the second member of the Bird family to be featured in this series.  His wife Malkah was photographed earlier this month teaching her kindergarten class.  It’s certainly no coincidence that spouses often both are pursuing a Personal Legend.  I believe having a partner who is of the same mindset can drive you further than you could go on your own.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

While I am interested in all aspects of the Earth, I am particularly fascinated by its climate. My work is focused around understanding how it has changed through time, how these changes have impacted people in the past, and what this can tell us about future climate changes and their likely impacts on society.

One of the aspects I love about this work is how multi-faceted it is. Over the course of a typical year, my research involves fieldwork in remote and beautiful locations (like Tibet and the South American Andes), laboratory analyses to produce climate-related data, interaction with students and scientists, and communication of results to the scientific community and general public. The combination of these aspects fulfills my personal interests in travel, exploration and discovery, while at the same time contributing to my larger goal of raising our collective understanding of Earth systems and awareness about our dependence on them.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I knew immediately after taking my first geology class at Hamilton College that I wanted to be a geologist. Integrating classroom and field investigations with a group of people that felt as passionate about nature as I did was an amazing experience. In graduate school, the thrill of exploration and discovery only cemented my initial decision and I made the choice to follow a career in science.

Perhaps the galvanizing moment was when I produced my first full data set during my masters of climate change in southern California for my Masters research. It was thrilling to have looked back in time and learned things about the climate that had not previously been known and then share this information with the world. I knew at that point that I wanted to make this my career.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Geology by its nature requires a tremendous amount of imagination. The systems geologists investigate most often operate on spatial and time scales that we as human rarely intersect with directly. This is especially so with climate, which by definition is the 30 year average of weather and occurs on continental scales. I often find myself deeply engrossed when thinking about these systems and how they interact across the globe. The nature of our lab and fieldwork also requires tremendous attention, and it is often that one will look up from an experiment or sample collection session with several hours having passed and you not having stopped to eat or drink. 

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Difficulty in school growing up as one with dyslexia was certainly an obstacle. I didn’t think of myself as an academic or scientist and certainly didn’t see myself becoming a researcher and professor.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Finding what I was passionate about in college and working hard to do well, however, made me realize that I could accomplish more than I thought I was capable of.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Find what you are passionate about and follow that to the end. Take chances, because unless you try, you will never know what is possible. Keep your sense of wonder and don’t let failure get the better of you because you will fail more than you succeed. But in the end, most things worth doing are difficult. As my PhD advisor would say, “If it were easy, it would already be done.”

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Sareh Azizi

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Sareh Azizi, 15, Violinist & Student

Sareh lived her first 13 years in Iran.  She began to play violin at age 10, but her family had to keep it a secret, as “western” music is strongly discouraged.  Later that year, she and her sister were attacked by police when they saw her carrying her violin, which left Sareh with a permanent injury to her leg.  When confronting the police for attacking his daughters, her father was arrested and jailed for a month. From then on the family was harassed by the police on a regular basis, so they left their town to seek a safer place to live.

A neighbor in their new town had a son who teaches at Indiana University.  Through him, a video of Sareh playing violin was shown to a professor of music.  Sareh was then invited to participate in the IU Summer String Academy in 2014.  She received a visa to travel here as a student, and was accompanied by her father.  Her mother and sister are currently in Turkey as they await word on whether they will receive asylum in the United States.

Sareh’s story of bravery and perseverance is a great reminder of how lucky I am to live in a society where I can follow my path without fear of persecution.  Sareh overcoming such adversity proves to me that nothing can keep me from my Personal Legend if I am persistent and stay on course.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I believe my calling is to be a violinist. I see myself on a stage, playing for people’s enjoyment. I also picture myself writing music and conducting an orchestra.
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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I was 10 years old when I first heard violin music on a TV, through a satellite dish. I wanted to learn to play the violin! My dad got me a small violin, and I started playing the violin and had a few lessons, but then the police in Iran smashed my violin and badly injured my leg. For two years, I was unable to play. Then my dad purchased another violin and I started again. Two years ago, I was invited to participate in the IU Summer String Academy in Bloomington, Indiana. Coming to the US was a wonderful chance for me to pursue my calling in a way I could not have done in Iran! I am grateful to God and to the people I have met in Bloomington for giving me this opportunity.
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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I don’t think that I am often “in the zone,” but I enjoy mastering and memorizing pieces of violin music. I like to interpret the composition so that it conveys what I am feeling when I play it. When I am performing, I thoroughly enjoy the interaction as I share my understanding of the musical piece with those who are listening. I love to play and share music with others.
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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Growing up in Iran made it almost impossible to pursue my dream of being a musician. In Iran people, particularly girls, are not allowed to play “western music.” A policeman shouted at me that I should be studying the Koran, not playing a violin, before smashing my violin! I learned to play the violin secretly, by listening to violin music that I heard in our home via a satellite dish that was hidden from the police when not in use.
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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I have learned the joy of playing the violin and giving people enjoyment. Music is as important to me as breathing! It is not just a hobby.
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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

When you have an opportunity that “knocks on your door,” make sure you take advantage of it, and go with it to the best of your ability. Follow your calling, whatever it is!

 


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Chris Elam

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Chris Elam, Mosaic Artist

Chris Elam, a Bloomington artist, was introduced to me by Kirby Melick when I was in town photographing on Tuesday.  Watching Chris at work, and seeing the nature of his chosen medium, I was not surprised to learn that he had attended Seminary.  There’s something meditative and spiritual about the process of mosaic.

It was also interesting to me how he spoke reverently of the ancient practice of “classical mosaic”, using tools largely unchanged in thousands of years.  I enjoyed his great appreciation for the history of it.  The photos below depict a classical mosaic and tools, as opposed to “tile mosaic” for which he uses modern tools.

You can see more of Chris’s work online on the Sycamore Tile Works website.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I personally think we have lots of “callings” in life and are likely always being “called” to something if we are in tune with ourselves and the present moment. These “callings” are things that have drawn us into their orbit and things for which we’ve had the courage to enter, things that have gravity and significance for us personally. For me, doing mosaic work has become one of those “callings.” It’s something I used to call my ghost, that thing that just kept on haunting me, until I gave it notice.

After having given myself to it, now it’s something that I do that gives me challenge while allowing me enough freedom to play and perhaps allows me to fulfill some inner need or impulse that I may not fully understand. Mosaics are not my “True Calling”, though. I could have been just as likely to have been called to carpentry or painting or writing. It just so happened that my path brought me to mosaics and it stuck. 

There is another sense in which we have to recognize that however wonderful our calling is, it cannot be everything. If a “calling” becomes everything, then we risk our fire burning out or our work becoming mechanical or insincere. Our “True Calling” is important because it informs these smaller “callings.” It gives them a foundation and will help sustain us when the fire does go out, which it inevitably will. My “True Calling” is to become my “truest self,” or in other words, to become the best version of myself that I can realize in this lifetime. To do that requires cultivating mindfulness and practicing being present to yourself, so that you can be present to others. I have always found that the hardest work of an artist is not the techniques of production or creating beautiful pictures but the work inside myself.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

After graduating from Seminary back in Illinois and burning out on thinking too much, something within me was crying out to work with my hands. I managed to find a local carpenter whose work I admired and he took me on as an apprentice with really no experience at all.  It turned out that he also installed tile and I slowly became his head tile installer. During two challenging tile installations working with him, I realized that I could do this work full-time and be quite happy.

Not long after that, I attended a “Green Building” conference in Chicago and met a woman by the name of Francine Gourguechon who was doing mosaic installations in architectural settings and I was blown away by her portfolio. It really opened my mind to what possibilities there were in tile. I began looking a little deeper and discovered the Chicago Mosaic School, the only school of its kind in the States dedicated to the origins of the medium. After my first workshop there, I realized I had found my people and my life began taking a new course.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I am often quite engrossed in whatever project I am working on, although I think it was worse when I was purely a tile installer.  There were far more details to manage in doing a bathroom or kitchen, keeping the subs on track, making sure the materials were there on time, communicating well with the client, managing the money, and doing the work day-to-day.  It became hard for me be present to myself and my family at home and in our community. 

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Now that I’m working in the studio, I am still engrossed in what I do, but I feel like I can leave it there and return to it more seamlessly. Creating mosaics is very slow. One of my teachers would say that “mosaic pays homage to slowness!” I am naturally a contemplative type and I think mosaics have given me a tangible way to discern and express the thoughts and feelings and emotions that come when you are trying to be present to this life.  It’s a kind of working meditation.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

There are a number of challenges that come with trying to live as an artist.  I spend four days a week by myself working in my studio, so it can get lonesome sometimes. There is the challenge and stress of trying to make sure you will be able to pay the bills and sustain this thing you feel called to.

It can seem like nobody is really watching. I know a lot of artists say that you just have to do it for you and nobody else, and I think ultimately that is true or you won’t keep going. But for an artist, having an audience completes the act of making art. It doesn’t have to mean that I’m having ground breaking discussions about my work, but the occasional shout out from others helps me to know someone out there is getting what I’m doing.

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As I alluded to before, the greatest challenge of being an artist is cultivating an interior life that gives you something to say. The thin divide between art and craft is in what is being communicated.  Art usually is trying to say something while craft is trying to be something.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I have learned that art is sacramental much in the same way that churches teach – “a visible sign of an inward grace.” In the case of art, Beauty arrives as a grace. I’ve discovered that my hands, at times, may create a physical something that when encountered impresses on the viewer some grace or some presence, some beauty.  For me, there is nothing greater than being able to participate in such an event.  But I am also aware that, as an artist, I do not have the power within me to make Beauty arrive whenever I want.  Sometimes it comes, sometimes it simply doesn’t. It is a mystery how all this works, but I think it is important to not think too highly of yourself and just keep giving yourself to each act of creation and see what may come.   

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

My best friend, who happens to be a therapist, recently shared a piece of wisdom that he had heard from one of his teachers in graduate school and I have been thinking recently how often it applies to “calling.” He said, “There are two kinds of people, fools and cowards.” It would be too simple to say that we are just one of these. At times we are fools and sometimes we are cowards. In my life, I have certainly been both, but I do think I’ve often lived the life of a fool, going for something when there wasn’t a clear path ahead or no guarantee that it would work. Following after a calling, in my experience, requires a leap. It may be a calculated leap, but it is a leap nonetheless.

For me, I spent a lot of time in my 20’s figuring out my identity. I think having a clear sense of self – who you are and where you came from – gives you the courage to leap when you need to leap and keeps you on course.  Mindfulness, introspection, practicing the present moment, whatever you want to call this awareness is invaluable in finding your identity, but ancestry, genetics, and a sense of place is important too.  Too many people are lost because they are distracted by all the bullshit around them – the demands of society, technology, the pace that we live life. That coupled with no sense of heritage or family origins is a medicine for disaster.  I really liked reading Parker Palmer’s book “Let Your Life Speak.” He makes the case that if we are present to ourselves our lives will speak back to us the thing we should do. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, has also been influential in my life making me aware of how interconnected we are with each other’s plight and how our ancestry affects what we have to work with in our own journey toward calling.

My advice is to get to know yourself and allow yourself to be the fool you were called to be. In doing so, you will inspire countless of other fools to do the same.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Kirby Melick

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom, Inc.

Kirby Melick makes furniture and cabinetry on his 13-acre property in Bloomington, Indiana.  His business Kirby Custom, Inc features custom fine cabinetry and furniture including kitchens, vanities, bars, doors and more.

He begins his workday at 4 a.m.  I sauntered in at the leisurely time of 6:30 to start shooting before sunrise. As someone who occasionally buys pine and plywood to construct half-conceived, utilitarian pieces; I found it inspiring to watch a master craftsman work with large slabs of high-grade hardwoods.

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana
Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.


1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I believe my true calling is to use the Lord’s gift of life to create objects from the forest woods in order enhance daily living and contribute to the success and quality-of-life of others.


Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana
Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Not until I was willing and able to accept that what I originally imagined my true calling to be, was in fact not.  I took many wrong turns before I realized I was heading in the wrong direction.  The hardest part in life can be accepting who you are.

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana
Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

I have often found that I am my own worst enemy.  Living up to one’s expectations of themselves is challenging.  Confidence and courage to overcome is the focus of daily meditation.
 

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana
Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Life is beautiful, if you allow it to be.  My path was ahead of me all along, but only clear in hind-sight.  Faith is the key.

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Listen to the world around you, the strengths and values you have that ‘lift up’ those that surround you, and find a compromise between your ‘dreams’ and your calling.  Often times our ‘dreams’ vary greatly from our strengths. True happiness, for me, is not in fulfilling a dream, but in helping others to accomplish their greatest purpose, or their true calling.
 

Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana
Kirby Melick, Kirby Custom Woodwork, Bloomington, Indiana

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Annie Eakin

05_annie_0102Annie Eakin, Annie’s Clothesline

Annie and her mother Dede founded Annie’s Clothesline in 2008, working together to design and produce children’s clothing.  I caught up with them in Bloomington, IN as they prepared for their biggest event yet, the Country Living Fair in Nashville, Tennessee, April 22-24.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I believe it is my Personal Legend to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. Annie’s Clothesline has provided me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom and impact other peoples lives through clothing. My mother and I began the business in 2008, shortly after I had my second daughter. Working from home allowed me to be with my children. From the start we both agreed that Annie’s Clothesline would not overwhelm our lives so we could still make our families a priority. 
The business was also strongly inspired by the opportunity to offer clothing to girls that is age appropriate and offers colors and styles that are alternatives to those common in popular stores; specifically those styles that are too short, too small, too pink, or too purple. We offer a feminine style for girls that allows them to look like girls, not like girls in women’s clothing. 
Annie’s Clothesline is part of my Personal Legend because it gives me the opportunity to influence a little girl’s life by empowering her through clothes that let her feel like a girl and not an object and I can also be the parent I aspire to be by staying home with my children.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

There are many experiences that I can attribute to leading me to my Personal Legend. I know it is part of who I was born to be. I can recall taking a “career” test in 3rd or 4th grade and the result of mine was social worker. I completely rejected that idea but what I did learn from that was that I like to help people and to bring something positive to someone else’s life.
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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I probably get the most lost in my Personal Legend when I’m trying to sleep. I lay awake thinking of things I need to do next and what I can accomplish tomorrow. I will wake up thinking of tasks to complete or things I need to say to others. 

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The greatest challenge to accomplishing my goals is myself. Always. I have high expectations of myself and when setting high goals it becomes overwhelming and can sometimes discourage me from accomplishing any goal at all. I want to do my best at everything I do and to be the best person/mother/wife/daughter/seamstress/athlete I can possibly be.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

My Personal Legend has taught me that just as I think I know who I am, there is more to discover. I began the business with my mother to create quality children’s clothing, to be able to spend time with my husband and kids, and to do something with my mother that we both love. After our first big show, four years after founding the business, I realized that I’m an artist too.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

My advice to others seeking their true calling is to not be distracted and keep focused on your main goal. We all get pulled in different directions. Focusing on what your true calling is and keeping that in mind in times of doubt, or when considering new opportunities, is what will keep you on the path to accomplishing your true calling. 

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Tatum Perez

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Tatum Perez, Training By Tatum

Two of my sisters-in-law train with Tatum and always talk about how much they love working with her.  After taking these photos, I could see why.  She’s easy going and positive, helping people reach their goals without being that drill sergeant stereotype often portrayed on TV.  If you or someone you know is looking for a trainer, here is her website: http://www.trainingxtatum.com

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Training is my Personal Legend because I truly love what I do and it brings me so much happiness. I think a person can have talent or skills in their work, but not necessarily be happy or content with it.  I can never see myself growing tired of helping others find health and happiness through activity.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I probably knew it my third year into college but at that point I had one more year until graduation and I could’t wrap my head around making the switch from Environmental  Management to Exercise Science. Four years after graduation I decided that I would at least get my personal training certification and maybe take it on as a hobby. Around this same time, I found myself moving back to Indiana from Puerto Rico so I didn’t have a chance to pursue it right away.  

I knew that Corporate America wasn’t for me. I worked hard but I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t until we had our first baby girl that I knew it was time for a career change. I wasn’t going to miss out on raising our daughter for a job that made me miserable. I had been scared to change career paths for many years but once I became a mother I felt invincible, so I took a chance.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

My mind is always on work. I am typically thinking about my clients and their workouts. I have to be careful to not let it interfere with my family life. I find myself mostly in the zone when I am writing new workouts, magazine articles and running or lifting weights.

My mind is always racing with ways to keep the workouts fresh, different and fun! I am always thinking of ways to encourage my clients to seek out healthy lifestyle changes. This is more than just working out but also fueling our bodies with whole foods, plenty of sleep and fresh air. It’s living in the moment and being in tune to our bodies.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

I feel that it’s helping clients with time management. It’s so much more than this but in the end it all comes back to time management. Whether or not my client feels that they can get up to workout, take breaks during their work day to move, cook a healthy dinner or get sufficient sleep, it’s all about prioritization and time management. It’s about feeling that they deserve it and can do it.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To take risks, learn from your failures and that as long as you are consistently passionate and enthusiastic you can make anything happen.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

You will have to take chances and risks and that’s okay. You will never know unless you try. 

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

 

Personal Legend Project: Rachael Heger

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls, Indianapolis

Rachael Heger began collecting bras at the beginning of this year to donate to local women’s charities. The goal was to give 3500 bras by her 35th birthday in December. That only took about 90 days, so she kept going.  To date she’s donated 4500 bras, and the scope of the project is only growing. Along with the bras, she also donates much-needed feminine hygiene products to women in need all over the state.

Today I photographed her at her home, which I guarantee has the most bras per square foot of any house in the world.  It’s the Braj Mahal.  She is very enthusiastic about this work, and it’s contagious.  I was almost as excited as she was about finding a 36K bra.  That’s a size, not a price.

Also featured in these photos is Miriam, 3, Rachael’s daughter.  She loves to help sort and play in the giant tote bag she refers to as her “nest”.  Find out more about her work on the Support the Girls Facebook page.


The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.” In the book, The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I feel a real sense of satisfaction when I’m able to provide for people in need.  In Judaism we call it “tikkun olam”, or repairing the world.  I originally became a librarian because I love connecting people and information.  My work with Support the Girls is very similar to my favorite parts of librarianship: project management, community involvement, providing a service, and of course, organization.  It’s also a little unexpected and niche, and I like that about it, too. I have never used so much positive language and exclamation points as I have with this project! 

Support the Girls is also a big part of my family life. My young daughter goes with me to check my post office box daily, helps untangle bras from the dryer, picks out her favorites, builds towers out of tampon boxes, and drops off big donations at shelters around town.  The organic and ongoing dialogue she and I are able to have about women and poverty is so important.  Setting and reaching goals, and then celebrating, are also important to me.

Rachael Heger sorts bras for Support the Girls

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I started collecting new and gently used bras on January 1, 2016, with the original intention of showing my daughter that helping others is a good way to start off a new year.  I wanted to fill a small box and send them to Dana Marlowe in Washington, DC, who started this initiative. I put an inquiry on a buy-sell-trade neighborhood site and collected 99 bras that first day.  I quickly realized there’s a major need here in Indy, and started to collect locally and distribute locally.  They haven’t stopped coming- I’ve received bras every single day of 2016.  4,500 have been distributed to women in need in Indiana so far this year.

Rachael Heger Support the Girls Indianapolis

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I’m a pretty intense person, and I could sort bras by myself for hours.  It’s probably a good thing that family life doesn’t let this happen.  I work very efficiently, given that my daughter is my first priority, and I’m fortunate that she sees this as her work as well.

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis
Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Even though I’ve been getting about 1,000 bras out of my house each month, they still have overtaken my house!  They are in my basement, playroom, dining room, and often my kitchen and foyer.  I also want to collect and distribute more feminine hygiene products.  About 10,000 have been distributed, but there is a huge unmet need.  Feminine hygiene products are not covered by any sort of government assistance, and these items are often overlooked when people donate to food pantries.  I am always greeted with palpable relief from the agencies who receive pads and tampons.

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

People are generally good and want to help.  I have nearly 1,000 people following my donations on my Facebook page, Support the Girls-Indianapolis, and I’m amazed what a community I’ve created.  I have bras from both coasts, Canada, and nuns in West Virginia, from women who have experienced homelessness, and from women with mastectomies.  Women have given so generously, and have spread the word to their yoga classes, churches, book clubs, employers, salons, and organized bra drives.  I’ve met women who have driven bras to Fort Wayne, Bloomington and Crown Point, enabling Support the Girls-Indianapolis to cover all of Indiana.  Women are kind and want to help each other out.  I’ve also learned that when I ask for help, I can receive it.

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

I remember reading something that said, “Don’t ask your children what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problems they want to solve.”  I am unable to end homelessness, or prevent domestic violence from happening, but I am solving one problem: women who flee a bad situation will be able to have some dignity and respect with access to bras that fit and pads and tampons when they need them.  Solving a problem gives me such a sense of satisfaction.

Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis
Rachael Heger, Support the Girls Indianapolis

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Alex Jackiw

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Alexandra Jackiw, President, Milhaus Management

Alex was referred for this project by GK Rowe, calling her a “national Icon in the Multifamily Mixed Use Property Management industry.”  Alex was also named as a 2015 Woman of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal.  I followed Alex as she did a walkthrough of the new Mentor and Muse buildings at Milhaus Development’s Artistry property in downtown Indianapolis.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Leaving an imprint in people’s lives through teaching or developing their talents.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

When I was asked to begin presenting training classes for my company in the early 1980’s.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m researching new material for a presentation or seminar I’ve been asked to give.  I get really excited about figuring out how to “connect the dots” for people.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Time.  Having the time to think and plan while still doing my day job.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

The dramatic effect we can have on people by seeing their potential before they see it in themselves.  Confidence and self-awareness are strong motivators.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Dig deep and question what makes you feel alive and effective.  Ask yourself what is the legacy you want to leave and how do you want to live on or be remembered.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Malkah Bird, Indianapolis Cooperative Kindergarten Teacher

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

PERSONAL LEGEND PROJECT

Malkah Bird, Cooperative kindergarten teacher

Entering this project, I knew that Malkah would have to be a part of it.  Malkah Bird teaches in a Cooperative Kindergarten in Indianapolis. Her progressive approach to education earns her much respect and adoration around the city.  She subscribes to an emergent curriculum philosophy and it produces some pretty amazing results. It seems like everyone I meet who is involved in elementary education in Indy knows her.

One especially exciting aspect of Malkah’s cooperative kindergarten class is the outdoor classroom. Once a week, Malkah and her students head into the woods for forest kindergarten; a half day spent outdoors rain, snow, or shine.  Even in the winter, kids are excited to go outside, bundling up and having hot chocolate or warm bread they just baked to help stave off the cold.

The day I followed Malkah, I did my best to keep up with the kids as they scampered through the woods in search of clues on a scavenger hunt.  It was fun and more challenging than I expected!  Click here to learn more about Meridian Hills Coop. (Full disclosure: our kids attend MH. It’s an AMAZING SCHOOL.)

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I have been a teacher for almost 13 years. I love so many things about teaching, but have recently realized that the aspect that brings me the most joy is having the opportunity to make connections and build relationships with young children and their families. I am incredibly fortunate to get to teach at a school that values child-directed play, wonder, curiosity, creativity, and the natural world above all else. I get to spend my days alongside children as they discover what inspires them, where their passions lie and all of the ways that they want to be in the world and interact with their friends and communities.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I have always loved spending time with and playing alongside young children. This year, though, for the first time, we are using the outdoors and the forest as an extension of our classroom and as a centerpiece of our curriculum. Our Forest Kindergarten time has been transformative for me as a teacher and a learner. Personally, I have always loved being outside in nature, but it has been so eye opening to realize that this can be a powerful aspect of a school and a dynamic and inspiring facet of my teaching.  

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

The school days fly by for me. When the kids are deep into their play, we lose all track of time. Everyday we have at least one uninterrupted hour of free play, often more. Some days this happens indoors and many days it happens in the forest.  During this free play time, the kids are deeply engaged and the ‘magic’ that is the childhood imagination takes over.  I could observe this for endless stretches of time.  I love watching as problems are created, discussed, solved, unsolved, and resolved right up until the next problem arises and the cycle begins again.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Although I have no doubt that this approach to school and learning is right, these days, it is not necessarily the mainstream belief about early childhood education. It is not always easy to turn away from what is popular to do what feels right. Even when it feels really, really right.  

I do think that the winds are shifting and parents, educators and researchers are starting to embrace play as a critical aspect of any early childhood program, but we still have a long road ahead as we learn to trust our kids as our guides to how and what they need to be learning during these earliest years.

As much as I love what I am doing and see profound benefits for my students, I am always aware of the many, many kids who, for a variety of reasons, do not get to have these rich, nature-filled childhood experiences. I would love to find ways to take what we are doing and bring it to a much, much larger population.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I have taught in so many different schools and settings to a wide variety of kids. At every step of the way, I have been able to find joy by connecting with my kids, their families and the school communities. There is no end game here. For me teaching is a journey, an introspective process of observing, growing and learning alongside my students. The real prize for me is in being a present and active participant in that process.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

A personal legend doesn’t have to be a grand sweeping thing. There is so much joy and meaning in small moments and connections.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

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(This post was originally published in April 2016 & was updated in May 2018.) 


Are you following your Personal Legend? Please share your journey in the comments below!

For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Kevin Morse

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Kevin Morse, Chemistry Teacher, Westfield High School

A couple weeks before the idea for this project came up, I was talking with some friends from high school about the work we were doing.  Kevin said how much he loved the entire process of teaching, from reading every new chemistry book he could get a hold of to the breakthrough moment when he can help a student understand a new concept.

It’s great to see someone I’ve known for 20 years combine skills they’ve always shown, such as leadership and an enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, into their Personal Legend.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I believe my calling is to teach science.  At different times I thought it was more broad: be a teacher, work at a high school, work with young people, etc.  The longer I have taught, the more I have realized that my passion lies in the subject, the students, and the process of teaching.  I can get excited about teaching other things or working with young people in other ways, but I am most driven and fulfilled when sharing science content knowledge with high schoolers.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I first considered being a teacher when I was in middle school.  The jazz band director at my middle school was a young science teacher who led the jazz band after school.  When spending time with him at school and at shows/competitions away from school, it seemed like he truly loved being with middle and high school kids.  He was happy and it seemed to keep him young.  That spoke to me. 

As I had other great teachers in high school and college, there was a common theme.  The great teachers didn’t necessarily always have the biggest smile or the happiest demeanor, but they seemed fulfilled by their job.  They wanted to be doing what they were doing, and that’s why they did it well. 

The combination of working with young people, finding fulfillment, and studying topics that I enjoyed pushed me to teaching.  Experiences in college confirmed that it was a good path for me.  There were moments during student teaching and my first years of teaching that helped me to feel that I was doing the right thing and pushed me to improve.  Somewhere around year 6-8 of teaching, I felt that I had truly started to become who I was supposed to be.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I feel most “in the zone” when I am planning and reflecting on lessons, especially when working with my colleagues.  I can spend hours designing a lab, writing a test, or developing a new way to teach a lesson without noticing the world around me.  Each time I present a lesson, I want it to be the best, not just good enough or better than before.  Striving towards perfection excites and motivates me.  

It seems weird to admit that I feel most “in the zone” when I am not with my students.  That isn’t the way a great teacher is normally portrayed.  I LOVE the time with the students, but for me what I do away from my students is what allows me to be my best with my students.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

I have been lucky that there haven’t been significant obstacles that have slowed me down.  Just like with all jobs, there are day-to-day tasks (grading, copies, etc.) that don’t thrill me.  There are politics (at both the local and national levels) that can bring stress and discouragement.  Instead of keeping a list of complaints on these and the other things that make teaching tough, I do my best to be encouraged that I get to work with great kids at a great school each day.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Be willing and able to learn from others.  I improved greatly as a teacher when I started collaborating with others.  The combined experience and passion of multiple people has taken my teaching to another level.  Taking that lesson to all parts of my life has made me a better person.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

When you feel like you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, fully commit and hold on for the ride.  My teaching career was not been what I imagined it would be when I first thought of being a teacher 25 years ago as a middle school student.  Teaching has taken me across the country and back.  I have taught students, learned from other teachers, learned from students, and taught other teachers.  From the outside, my experiences may not look extraordinary, but all of the little things that I have done have increased my passion and made me the teacher I am today.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Tim Ayers

Tim Ayers, Grace Church

When my wife Courtney and I started discussing people for this project, one of the first that came up was Tim Ayers.  She grew up swimming with his children and knew him as someone who embraced his calling to the church.  Over the years, she continued to hear his name mentioned by friends who attended Grace Church.  In my time photographing his class, I could see his passion for teaching through his carefully considered words and his connection to his students, as they listened closely to his thoughts and ideas.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

To help others navigate through the complexities and difficulties of life. As a Teaching Pastor, my calling is best seen in making sense of the Bible; teaching it in ways that bring both understanding of the text in its original context and how that message is relevant to our lives today. But the calling of ‘Pastor’ is far bigger than simply being a teacher. It involves being present with people in the joys and sorrows of life.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

In my early 20’s after watching three separate men live out the calling in a way that spoke to my heart.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

While teaching.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

There are two: 1) saying and doing the right thing in moments of great tragedy and 2) personal attacks that come with leading a church. It is often unimaginable what people will say; it is also unimaginable what will be important enough to someone to say something darkly critical. It is impossible to not to take things personally especially when you are consciously working to do your best.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

How little I actually know about our very complicated lives. It has taught me humility.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do not allow obstacles to stand in your way. My pathway to living out my calling took years of effort and many unexpected twists and turns, but it was all worth the effort.  


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Andy Hassler

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Andy Hassler, Blue Mind Roasting

Andy Hassler and his wife Sarah own Blue Mind Roasting in Indianapolis.  Together they run the business while seeking a path of purpose in life.  Andy performs the roasting duties, which I’m featuring in this post.  I’m by no means a coffee expert, but I can tell you the cup Andy brewed for me was damn good.  It was so smooth and flavorful, I had to drink it black.  You can buy through their website or at these Indy-area markets.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

For us, there is not a perfect, straightforward answer to this question. Coffee roasting is definitely part of our calling, but we have only learned this in the past few years. After some twists and turns, we have begun to view our calling as more of an umbrella under which several things fit. I guess that umbrella would be living a life characterized by slowing down, being present, and cultivating beauty and life in a specific place. We are involved with a few different things that fall under this, but coffee roasting has been one of the largest parts of it for us, especially lately.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

It’s interesting because for a long time I thought my one true calling was writing and teaching, and Sarah thought hers was to be a mother. We have only begun roasting coffee in the past few years. As my view of what I thought I would do with writing and teaching began to change, I started to develop a passion for roasting coffee. And as our kids have gotten older, Sarah has been longing for something different as well. So you could say this aspect of our calling only became clear three years ago. At the same time, if we step back and look at the bigger picture, coffee roasting falls under that umbrella that we now see has always defined our lives. It is just now becoming more clear.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I am in the zone when I am thinking about how to roast a new coffee, tasting a new coffee, or talking about and educating people about coffee. Sarah experiences this when she is doing anything related to the artistic side of the business.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

There was a point where we hit a road block in what we felt like we were doing with our lives, and we sort of had to recalibrate everything. This is actually when we began roasting coffee and started to develop a different vision for our life. This has been very painful, and in some ways we are still working through it. At the same time, things are clearer now than they have been in a while, and the whole process has actually broken up a lot of ground in our lives, making way for new growth.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

The world both does and does not really need us. There are much larger realities in this world than our dreams. And these realities can be very harsh at times. An overly ambitious ego and unrealistic goals often create a bubble waiting to burst. At the same time, dreams do matter, and pursuing something with passion and the intention to serve other people can change lives, including your own. For us, slowing down and learning to be present and considerate of small things has been critical. Our pursuit is teaching us contentment, gratitude, and attentiveness to the moment.  

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Make sure your true calling is actually true to who you are. Losing something you have hoped for can be very painful, but if the hope was false, you will eventually be better off without it. If you can find what is true about your hope, you can still hold on to that and move forward. Then you have to live it out however you can, even if it’s not full-time. I would say to think small at first, and be careful not to let others manipulate it or rob you of it. Looking too far ahead or comparing yourself to others tends only to set you back and never moves you forward.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Adam Germany

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Adam Germany, Fu5ion Personal Chef & Catering Services

I first met Adam over the holidays and immediately realized we share similar perspectives on entrepreneurship and following a true calling.  It was inspiring to hear how his business has taken off since moving to Indy in 2014 and starting Fu5ion that fall.  Adam doesn’t like to drop names, but I don’t mind letting you know he can list a few Pacers players as regular clients.  His new delivery service just started in February and already has clients from Greenwood to Zionsville.

Check out www.fu5ionpcs.com for more details about his services.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I’ve discovered through my passion for food and creating memorable experiences, that my true calling is helping others to realize and achieve their greatest potential.  I’ve come to understand that my career passion as a personal chef provides me with an opportunity to connect with people in a very special way and help them to inspire, create and realize their truest self, while feeding them delicious food.  

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

My first glimpse of my true calling came one day while helping my father plan financially for his business, providing him perspectives from my own business experiences.  I had been in my career as a chef for nearly a decade at the time and he asked me if I had ever considered becoming a consultant .  He noted that the way that I was able to speak to people and provide them with a space to truly be themselves and discover their own way by asking “the right” questions was remarkable.  I did not think much of it at the time, but over the next several years I relived similar experiences with many other people while providing them with food through my passion as a chef.  My calling was clear. 

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I most often find myself “in the zone” when I think of the results and difference that my work will make in the lives of others.  Those thoughts provide me with an unwavering drive and determination to achieve my goals.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The greatest challenge I’ve faced in my pursuit of my life’s work has been learning to consistently take action in the face of fear.  My passion for what I do keeps me focused and driven, however fear challenges that on a daily basis: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of failing, fear of loss, fear of fear itself.  I have come to a place in my life now where I understand that fear will only be an obstacle until I face it.  Whenever I have a feeling of fear while making decisions with regards to my life’s work, I ask myself, “Why am I fearful?”   Most times I discover that this is the action I most need to to take in order to achieve my goals.  This realization provides me with the power and courage to take the needed steps to move forward.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Pursuing my own Personal Legend has taught me many things.  I have found that there are not any direct paths or specific road maps that you must follow to your life’s purpose.  You are exactly where you are “supposed” to be on your journey right now.  Stay present and embrace every moment of your journey, and your “way” will unfold, almost magically.   Also, managing and controlling fear when it enters your life is a major key.  Fear is one of the strongest emotions.  It has the power to paralyze and keep us from achieving our truest potential.  Once we clearly identify fear when it enters our psyche, and take action in spite of it, we will discover another realm of living and the possibilities that are available to us.  

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Follow your heart!  When you’ve found your true calling, you won’t be able to deny the feeling.  


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Betsy Callahan

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Betsy Callahan, Ballroom Dancer

When I first started taking Betsy’s photos for this project, I sensed she was a little nervous.  Later she told me that I was the first in the family to be invited into the studio.  Betsy is my wife’s sister.  A number of people in the family said she’d be a great fit for this project.  I agreed.

Something inspiring about Betsy’s dancing is that its goal is one of personal growth.  It’s not a path to make money or gain outside recognition.  The pursuit itself is the reward.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

My passion is competitive ballroom dancing. I love the training, learning the techniques and exploring how to express music with a partner. In short, I love the process.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

 

I have always done some form of dance since I was a little girl. When I went back to college at the age of 32 my school was offering a minor in ballroom dancing. I enrolled in my first class and a new door was opened up to me. I found my “home”. My soul sang. I have been studying it ever since. Right now I have an instructor who is so talented and has a wealth of knowledge that he is willing to share. Learning the art is an ongoing process. I have been doing it now for 20 years.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Every day that I walk through the studio door I try to leave my other self behind. This 3-4 hours is my time. The ritual I follow to get ready for a lesson helps prepare me to focus. Sometimes it works better than others but most of the time I’m in the zone until I change clothes and head back home. I’m working on being in the zone during competitions. I get sooo nervous.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My biggest challenge is accepting my limitations. I have asthma so sometimes my body will not do what I want it to.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

It has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was, that my mind can be my enemy or my friend, and that battling the nay-sayers is a battle worth fighting. I’ve learned to be brave and step out of my safety zone. I’m constantly saying to myself, “Face the fear and walk into it”.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

I encourage everyone to discover their gifts and not to give up until they do. Following “the path of the heart” isn’t easy but living your passion makes you see and experience life differently.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Sarah Moshe

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Sarah Moshe, Immigration Law, Lewis & Kappes

My wife has been close friends with Sarah for over 25 years.  In the time I have known her, her passion for immigration law has always been apparent.  Immigration is an issue that is frequently politicized and spoken about in sweeping generalizations.  But the reality is that behind the numbers and rhetoric, there are individuals who have a broad range of circumstances.  Sarah has a great deal of compassion for immigrants and seeks to help them achieve their American dream.

I photographed Sarah at the Lewis & Kappes offices in downtown Indy as she met with clients.  Her assistant, Daisy Davila-Dollard, who Sarah states is essential to her ability to get things done, is with her in the image below.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I eat, sleep, breathe, sweat, and cry immigration. Literally. You can find me ordering tacos at Carnicería Guanajuato. My bedroom wall is decorated with a mural depicting El Día de los Muertos, handcrafted by a close friend from Mexico. I dedicate countless hours to researching our country’s ever-changing laws, traipsing back and forth across Capitol Hill to discuss policy with members of Congress, and rocking clients’ newborn babies while deciphering their histories and crafting case management plans. I weep reading books like The Devil’s Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea), The Tortilla Curtain (T.C. Boyle), and Prayers for the Stolen (Jennifer Clement). Tears stream down my face when a trial concludes, when my clients are unshackled and reunited with their families outside a courtroom.

Immigration is my life’s work. Immigration is my Personal Legend, and I have the incredible fortune to earn a living doing precisely what I love. I am an immigration defense attorney.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I feel like I’ve known my entire life this is my calling.

My mom used to tell a story about losing me in the 130,000 ft2 Kittle’s showroom when I was four or five years old. She realized I had wandered off from her, which was highly unusual, and frantically searched the store. When she spotted me, I was following behind a Spanish-speaking family – my eyes as wide as saucers with wonder at the sounds and lively gesticulations.

I was fluent in Spanish before high school graduation, and earned honors after documenting my own pilgrimage, on foot, through Mexico City to La Basilica de Santa María de Guadalupe. I majored in Latin American Studies in college, and wrote my law school application essays about migrant farmworkers’ rights.

Being immersed in other cultures, even in my very own city, and helping families pursue their dreams while simultaneously enrichening Indianapolis with their native languages, cuisine, music, literature, and film is what I have always, always wanted to do.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Every. Single. Day. The world could be crumbling around me while I am meeting with a potential client for the very first time, and I would be blissfully unaware. There is something ethereal about listening intently to an immigrant’s story.

A 15-year-old Honduran girl who journeyed alone, crouched for days in the shipping container connected to a semi, who hopes to enroll at Speedway High School. A 45-year-old Colombian man who fled when the guerrilla forces infiltrated his village, and is now dying of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, who wants to make sure his undocumented wife has a valid driver’s license so she can transport him to medical appointments. A 19-year-old boy from South Sudan who can run a four-minute mile, who overstayed his student visa because civil war broke out in his home country days after his arrival in the United States, and he has not been able to locate his family (who he last heard was in a refugee camp in a neighboring African nation) in over two years.

Hanging on every word uttered, every memory behind eyes that have seen far more than I could ever imagine, I listen. Then, I probe every statute, regulation, and precedential case in search of a way to help. I would go to the ends of the earth, even while the world is crumbling, for these precious people.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Triplets! I’m certain I love my children more than any other mother has ever loved a child (all mothers say that, don’t we?!), and everything from the mundane – reviewing homework, ironing uniforms, and packing lunches – to the spectacular – spontaneous snuggles on the sofa, sharing my wanderlust with them while their minds and souls are still sponges, and conversations with them about anything and everything – brings me great joy. I’d be lying, though, if I professed to be able to draft a killer brief or, honestly, to be able to even think about clients and cases, while I am mothering three eight-year-olds.

Life is a magnificent balance. My kiddos and their needs force me to rest my constantly-churning mind. Doing arts and crafts with them, going on a scavenger hunt in our neighborhood, and shooting baskets at dusk is the best kind of break. If it weren’t for Noah, Aila, and Gabriel, I might never leave my office! I would lose out on so much beauty outside of my niche!

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Patience. Compassion. Open-mindedness. Cultural sensitivity. Foreign languages! Respect – for my co-workers, clients, opposing counsel, judges, and government. Humility. Gratitude.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Well, the best piece of advice I received was from Jay Foonberg, in his book, How to Start and Build a Law Practice. He writes, “To succeed in the practice of law over a period of years requires a deep and sincere desire to help people. If you are looking upon your license to practice law simply as a ticket to making money, or as a one-way ticket out of the ghetto or barrio, then you are making a serious mistake… If you are entering the legal profession solely to make money, you are making a serious mistake… With proper management and proper client relations skills, the economic rewards will follow the rendering of high-quality legal services.”

Identify what you love. Think of nothing but that, and go for it. Do it. Do it as well as possible, giving it every ounce of your essence. The money, which we all need to survive, will come. I promise.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Eric Holcomb

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

Eric Holcomb, Lieutenant Governor of Indiana

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Indiana Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb a number of times over the past few years.  I respect his enthusiasm for government and his tireless dedication to improving our state, which is why I immediately thought of him for this project.  I’ve photographed him in a number of settings and he’s always genuinely friendly and jovial.  I also appreciate that he actively seeks opinions from both sides of the aisle to get work done that’s in the best interest of our community.

I met up with Eric in Batesville on Thursday as he toured RomWeber Flats, a new type of senior living community, and met with executives at Hillenbrand, Inc., one of Indiana’s largest employers.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

In the simplest sense, working with others to solve problems.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Probably around the time I started playing basketball in elementary school.  I enjoyed the teamwork aspect, how everyone has a role, and each position is as important as the next.  That approach led to involvement in high school student government, served me well in the U.S. Navy, and has since proven incredibly valuable throughout my entire career in public service.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Daily.  I try to schedule my days such that I’m running from one thing to the next.  It not only allows me to do more, it’s keeps my actions genuine, not staged.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Not enough hours in the day and being unable to be two places at the same time.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Don’t waste a day.  Unplugging can be healthy and even necessary to recharge the batteries, but don’t unplug from contributing to something greater than yourself.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Whatever you are doing, don’t do it just for the money, or you will just be short changing yourself.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in 2016 when he was Lieutenant Governor.

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Deacon Bill Reid

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Deacon Bill Reid, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church

Deacon Bill spent 31 years working at Eli Lilly.  As retirement approached, he began to consider his next chapter.  His sister mentioned that she thought he’d make a great deacon, and he admitted that he didn’t know exactly what a deacon’s role was.  As he learned about the diaconate, he began to think that it could be a great fit for him.  At first, he told me, he thought that becoming a deacon might be as simple as receiving a blessing from a priest.  However, the actual path required seven years of schooling.

Bill Reid officially became Deacon Bill Reid in 2008.  He likes to say that he’s not “retired” he’s “rewired.”  Well put.  His enthusiasm for his role in the church was immediately evident when my wife and I had first attended his baptism class in 2009.  As a deacon, he performs baptisms, and he has baptized two of our children.  I had hoped to photograph him at a baptism, as that’s one of his favorite roles in the church, but alas, he was not scheduled for one in April.  I opted to take the photos at  Vespers (evening prayers), which I think made for a great second choice.  Deacon Bill enjoys the rituals of the Catholic Church and I think these images capture that.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Following God’s call is challenging, difficult, and highly rewarding. My true calling is to be a visible sign of God’s love to everyone – not just members of my family, not just members of my parish, not just to people whom I like – but to everyone I come in contact with.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I think I’ve known this is my calling for my whole adult life, but it became very clear to me when I considered retirement from the business world, and wondered what I would do next. One of my early bosses gave me good advice when I was quite young, right out of college; he said “You have to retire to, you can’t just retire from. That way you’ll have something that will engage you for the rest of your life, and you won’t just waste away doing nothing.” I remembered that advice and followed it when I considered retirement.

My sister was the first to suggest that I consider becoming a Deacon, and that thought kept coming back to me over and over again as I prayed and discussed the idea with my wife.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I lose track of time when I am engaged in a serious conversation with someone who is struggling, either with their faith, or with an important life situation they find themselves in. In those times of personal crisis, I look for opportunities to help them live through the crisis, and for me time just stands completely still.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The hardest thing to manage or control is time! Every one of us gets the same amount of time every day, no matter what our occupation. Throughout the day I’m asked to spend time with my family, and with church-related activities. As a husband and father and grandfather along with being a deacon, there just aren’t enough minutes in the day to satisfy everyone. Balancing all these priorities is a real challenge!

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

It has taught me that I have been blessed in many ways throughout my life, in my successes and in my failures. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. I continue to seek God every day, and I find Him in the most amazing places.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Even though it sounds cheesy, you need to follow your heart! Deep within you lurks your true calling, even if you are not pursuing it at the present time. If you take time to pray quietly, to seek and follow the advice of good friends, and to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities, you may be lucky enough to discover what your true calling is. It can take most of a lifetime to find it. Once you’ve found it, follow it!

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: GK Rowe

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GK Rowe, Business Design Principal, Q7 Associates

GK has a uniquely creative mind, and I’ve regularly called him up over the years to discuss ideas over drinks or lunch.  It’s nice to talk with someone who gets it.  He’s also one of the best connectors I know, hosting regular gatherings for creatives of all types.  Logically, once I came up with the idea of this project, he was my first call.  In addition to being a great fit for this project himself, he referred me to at least three other subjects in this series.

I caught up with GK at one of his weekly creative meetings at Palomino, where as you’ll see, he’s earned himself a permanent spot at the bar.  Next I followed him over to Spoke & Steele, a sleek new spot in Le Meridien hotel for another meeting of minds.

Check out Q7 Associates online to learn about the awesomeness that is experienced-based design.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I always wanted to be an educator and initially went to school to be a teacher.  I was one of those kids who would put together a classroom in my bedroom.  I eventually changed my mind after getting my bachelors in art education and found a career in business that helped me to better refine other talents.  I really enjoyed the business culture when I first started and quickly moved up to various positions where I supervised several people, districts and had a company car most of my business life and a well paid salary position.  

Time went on and the business world left my soul feeling very dark. There was lots of travel and I practically lived out of a suitcase and on airlines for some time, the business world became cutthroat and manipulating.  What started out as being an ideal career turned sour.  I watched my coworkers get divorce, become alcoholics, and cheat on their spouses.  It became a manipulation game with our clients and I was wearing thin – physically and emotionally.  One day I quit my job.  I’d had enough and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do; however, I knew clearly what I was no longer going to do.  

I went to work as a security guard at an art museum making minimum wage and had time to write a business plan.  I wanted to do something creative and back to filling my soul.  While I very much enjoy painting and being an artist, the struggles seemed high and the pay seemed dim so I worked to combine my creative talents with my business background and education/teaching knowledge.  This helped me form Q7 Assocaiates.  

Today, I work with clients to provide them with honest services that I can proudly put my name on, I work with people and clients who I enjoy and challenge me so my work never gets stale.  I am in a position to help people and businesses grow and that is what excites me about my work.  I have helped start-ups move to large companies and I have had the opportunity to work with some very well named brands providing a wide variety of services.  I’ve done everything from picking out salt and pepper shakers for clients to naming their business to designing their corporate offices.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Once I left corporate culture I was sitting in my home office plugging away at whatever I could do to get work.  I received an email from the Arts Council of Indianapolis that was a call for artist.  The call was for the Conrad, a new hotel going in downtown Indianapolis.  I thought, dreamed, fantasized about what it would be like to have my artwork in a place as prestigious as the Conrad.  I submitted my portfolio .  

Three years passed and I didn’t hear any more about the call – no response to yes or no and I became so occupied on other projects that I simply forgot about the submission.  One of those distractions was putting together a magazine.  I had just launched the first issue of a magazine that highlighted creative projects, people in business in the Indiana area.  About a month after the magazine was out I got a call from one of the ladies that was interviewed that worked for Kite Reality.  She said that the VP for Marketing of the Conrad had picked up our magazine at a wine bar, contacted her to put him in touch with me.  

The next week I was in a board room with three Conrad executives.  I was eventually hired to do marketing and various design initiatives.  One day they called me and said the interior designer did not spec artwork for the space and they needed my help placing work.  I added that to my service list and found three original Picasso works to put behind the front desk.  The day they were being installed with security arriving to unload them I realized how whole I felt and that I had once dreamed of having my artwork in that hotel; however, ended up being the person that placed the artwork.  I love seeing projects that are “raw” come to a “polished” finish – it’s a lot like painting to me.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I typically reserve my home office space for creative thinking and my work office space for production and task oriented projects.  This sounds odd, but most of my creative thinking comes while driving and in the shower.  Some of the best problem solvers know how to get in to this zone – some do things like take a walk, do cross-stitch or a remedial task that has rhythm.   I sometimes will go to a symphony or rehearsal and simply meditate or think through a project.  I find that most of the time I come out of that space racing to find a bar napkin to capture ideas.  These normally become developed concepts.  At Q7, we now have creative meetings at Palomino so we can get out of our office space, relax with a glass of wine and casually discuss ideas.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My biggest challenge is staying relevant. I sell creative ideas and style and these two items are something everyone has to offer.  Even my clients come up with their own ideas.  I practice being a responsible creative where the ideas and concepts have to some way benefit the client’s organizational needs or their client’s needs so it isn’t always just about a creative idea, but it’s practical application and benefit.  

The other challenge is time.  Creativity takes time and the world we live in is very demanding and we sometimes have very limited time to create and this limits the production of what can be accomplished.  We also have to work within budgets so not every idea is affordable.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Perseverance, courage and strength.  For me, practicing my true calling did not come easy and required lots of emotional and physical strength.  I had to push myself when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, I had to focus on me and not allow people to pull me down.  It’s surprising the number of people that won’t mind watching you fail.  It also taught me to listen to my inner whisper, my inner voice.  I find that my intuition is very strong when I’m working and going that path seems to always be the right one.  

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Learn to listen with a critical ear.  I looked for a received lots of advice; however, at the end of the day, I was the one that had to do something about it and it is easy to get caught up in other peoples ideas when you are desperately looking for something to work.  Staying true to my own self was the strength that got me into my true calling.  And, I always embrace new challenges and look for the opportunity to learn from others and continue to grow in my work.  Make friends with fear.  It will be the fuel to motivation and growth.  If I was paralyzed by the fears I have encountered, I’m almost certain I would not have experienced my true calling.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Fritz Albright

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Fritz Albright, Wright Road Stables

I first met Fritz about 10 years ago when I moved to Carmel and began frequenting Joe’s Butcher Shop, where he was our main butcher man (unofficial title, of course).  Always friendly and quick to start a conversation, often times we would talk about his horses.  Recently he retired, but I think you’ll notice a trend among the subjects in this project: retirement ≠ slowing down.

Fritz and his wife Sally now dedicate their time to breeding race horses.  Their love for the animals was always evident from our conversations, and documenting Fritz working with them only solidified that observation.  I was also impressed by their stewardship for their land.  They don’t use any chemicals on their property, which means Fritz hand-weeded 10 acres of land over a 2-year period when they first purchased the property.

There are many variables and uncertainties when working with animals, and I feel that I should point out that in order to make this a successful operation, Fritz spent years studying the business before buying their first horse.  Passion and knowledge of the business has combined to create a successful endeavor for the Albrights.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I like the term “life’s work” best and think that breeding and raising thoroughbreds is work that will keep us inspired for as long as we wish.  Every spring, we have one or two foals and in just three years, one could be running in the Kentucky Derby!  If you can dream, dream big!

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

In 1975 I was dating my now wife, Sally, and she wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, which I never had attended.  We went and that is when I fell in love with both!  I had raised a lot of different animals in my youth, mostly to sell for meat, but never horses.  After my two sons graduated from college, I started to read books about thoroughbreds and breeding, and their part in history, which is mind-boggling.  With the use of the computer, I can trace my mares and stallions back to England and the Crusades, when they realized the speed of the Arabian horse.  Breeding and racing is perhaps the greatest puzzle on earth, thus the challenge!

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Easy.  In late fall and throughout winter months, with the cold, the rain, and driving snow, I can be grumpy about facing the elements, but as soon as the nickering of the horses start, my heart fills with warmth, knowing they count on me. Other times after long drives and workdays, when all of my body hurts, my pain and all my troubles of the day go away as I begin to head down to feed.  An older gentleman,  Bob Stomm, who I purchased some of my mares from was always fond of saying, “The greatest thing is I can talk to them and they never talk back.”

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Obstacles are everywhere.  First of all, everyone thinks you are nuts, so we were pretty much on our own, buying the right mares, stallion, some yearlings, to get homebreds to track from gestation on can take four years.  The biggest obstacle is money, plain and simple!  Another “Bob Advice”…   Do not buy a big new truck and horse trailer, the money goes toward the horses, and hard work done ourselves is the way to do things.  The Thoroughbred Owners Handbook was a great tool, also.  The first six chapters were dedicated to taxation and encouraged us to set up our business, Wright Road Stables, LLC.  We were forewarned that seeing a profit in this business could take six years, so setting up the LLC helped us in receiving tax refunds, which helped us with our operating costs.

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend “life’s work” taught you?

I do like the term “life’s work” because this work is never finished and one has to be patient, for good things will come.  Although it has incredible highs, the lows can be the lowest, and you have to make it through both, for the highs can destroy also.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Once that you know you love something, go slow and learn all you can before jumping in with both feet.  Don’t let money rule your decision.  The scariest story I ever read was from Walter Mitty, “being the richest person in the cemetery” does not interest me, either.  Have good partner.  I don’t like the term “Personal Legend” as this not what it is all about. It’s playing a game called life in your own terms.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Tommy Baldwin

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Tommy Baldwin, Musician

I met Tommy in a very serendipitous manner.  I stopped by my office on Saturday after another shoot and noticed my office neighbors, Kingston’s Music Showcase, were in.  For me, music is as big of a passion as photography, and I hadn’t yet found a musician to participate in the project.  I thought I’d ask the owner, Rick Kingston, if he could recommend someone.  Without hesitation he said that Tommy Baldwin was the most passionate musician he knew, and he would be coming by in about 15 minutes.  Tommy is a 20-year-old phenom who splits his time between his hometown of Indy and LA, gigging with big names in the blues & rock scene.

When Tommy came in, he was immediately on board with the project.  I shot a few images during rehearsal, then met up later in the evening for his gig at Vireli’s.  If you’re in the Indy area, mark July 3rd on the calendar and come see Tommy’s inspired playing at Guitar-mel Fest, a concert at CarmelFest, which I’ll be sponsoring/shooting again this year.

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Here’s where we typically have our six questions, but today we’re presenting Tommy’s info in more of a story format.

I believe my true calling is to write and play music. I love the arts in its entirety. Drawings, Paintings, Pottery, Glass, Acting, Music, Film, etc, but music is my favorite of them all. It’s my favorite because you can still feel it when you close your eyes. It’s the melody you think of walking down the street or hanging out with friends. It’s all around you, all the time. You just have to listen, and create what you hear and make it your own.

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I started playing guitar when I was 8 years old. I went to my friend’s house who had a broken guitar with 3 strings on it and barely worked. I remember when I first picked it up and played it on my lap like a lap steel guitar, but I used my thumb. He saw I was really interested in it so he let me have it and take it home.  When I took it home I had no idea how to play it, but I loved it.  I remember waking up the next day to find out my dad had tuned it and I was so mad because I liked how it sounded before…. Haha.  

A year later Santa brought me my first Squire Stratocaster.  So I learned how to properly play it, learning chords and songs.  I loved that damn thing, then, a year later my dad and mom surprised me with a Red Epiphone SG.  I got that guitar as an early Christmas present, I was so excited. A month later on December 19th, 2006 my dad died of a heart attack. My life completely changed. That event morphed me into who I am as a person today; how passionate I am about music, and how I love my friends and family.

My mom and I moved in February of 2007 into a little condo and had to get rid of a lot of our stuff from the old house.  We were extremely sad, but we made it through.  At the time I loved to play Metallica and Linkin Park. But, when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix, I watched in awe and said, “Now that’s how I wanna play guitar!”  I could feel the blues; the notes that he felt and sang with his guitar and vocals.  Then I heard Hendrix, Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, and I was SO in love with the blues…. And I still am! That’s what I still play.

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Fast forward to now… Last year I met Dug Pinnick from King’s X at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show. I was there to see one of my favorite guitar players, Eric Gales. After his show, he went off to the side and signed CD’s.  Eric did a project with Dug called PGP with a drummer named Thomas Pridgen, who my drummer Elijah Polard loves. He showed me the group.

So I saw Dug and said well screw this line, I’m gonna go say hi to him, because he’s a badass bass player. So I walked up to him and introduced myself and said how much I loved his tone and style of playing. He asked me why I was here and said I love Eric Gales and would love to meet him and buy a CD. So he grabbed my hand and said, “Well screw this line he’s my friend!” and walked me through the line and introduced me as Tommy Baldwin, his blues guitar player friend, when we had just met. Eric gave me a hug and said “Hey man, nice to meet you!” and signed CDs for us.

Then Dug offered to take us to dinner!  So we went and ate in the restaurant of the Hilton and sat and laughed and conversed for about 2 hours.  Then Dug said come up to the room and hang with us if you’d like.  So we went and hung for about an hour or so and called it a night, but as we were leaving Dug says, “I’ll see you tomorrow, buddy!”

That was the first day and night I met my best friend in the whole world, Dug Pinnick.  Now, a little over a year later, I live with Dug in North Hollywood California (Encino/Reseda area).  He’s taken me on tour with him twice, in which he got me up to play the encore song every night on for a month, which was Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix.  I’ve also now played with and met so many famous musicians who I now can call my friends and work with as well.  Now Dug is playing bass and producing my upcoming record “Moving Towards The West Coast Sun”, and we are due to release it with Rat Pak records in the summer time.

I’ve worked very hard this past year writing and recording music with Dug and can’t wait to get back out to Los Angeles to finish up the record and see what the rest of 2016 brings. I thank God for all of this happening. God works in very strange ways, and I am so thankful for everything going on right now and all of the people that are helping it happen. It is a blessing to meet and befriend people on this path to hopefully achieve my true calling.

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Penelope Dullaghan

Penelope Dullaghan, Illustrator & Designer

Penelope’s work is primarily influenced by nature, and she takes daily walks along the river behind her home.  Frequently she paints or sketches what she finds.  Her work is used both commercially and editorially and credits include Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, Starbucks, O Magazine and Target.  Be sure to check out her work on her website: penelopeillustration.com or follow her on Instagram.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Making art is my true calling. It’s been the thing that’s kept my attention since I was little. And it helps me look at the world more closely and possibly make some sort of sense of it. Several times I’ve tried to leave it to do something else (temporary insanity), but I always come back. It’s just part of me.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, but I think I realized it was my calling when I was working as an art director in advertising. I was always drawn to the more creative aspects of that job and eventually left to make it my focus. I’ve been freelancing as an illustrator since then and feel like I’m in the right place.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m in my studio working on a new piece, I often lose track of time… forget to eat… realize hours later that I’ve been sitting in silence working for hours without looking up.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My greatest challenge has been being ok with the natural, slow evolution of my work. I tend to be competitive and gung ho, and my work in tandem with my life circumstance has taught me to slow down and accept a more meditative pace.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To be here and now.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Find some way to pursue it. Whether that means just in your free time as a hobby, or something more dedicated. What matters is to listen to it and take a step.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Frank Basile

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

Frank Basile, Heartland Film Festival, Interim President

I first met Frank and his wife Katrina in 2010 when Frank was in need of some portraits for a column he writes.  A friendly and unassuming couple, I was unaware of the significant impact they had on the local arts scene.  Not only has their generosity landed their names on various theaters around town, but Frank uses his “retirement” running not-for-profits on an interim basis and serving on multiple boards.

Be sure to check out the Heartland Film Festival this fall, October 20-30, in various locations around Indianapolis

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Doing something that serves a mission that I believe in – whether working at the Gene B. Glick Company as I did for 33 years, serving on a board of a not-for-profit organization, doing volunteer work or, as I am doing now, serving as interim president of the Heartland Film Festival.  Four years ago, I served as interim president and CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts and also loved that challenge and felt fulfilled by accomplishing the job. 

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

In the early 1980s when I joined the board of the Indianapolis Art League.  

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I am facing a difficult challenge while working at something I love and enjoy.  This happens often when I take over the top job for a not-for-profit on an emergency basis because there is generally a tough situation to deal with.  

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Obstacles over which I have little or no control frustrate me and cause the greatest challenge.  

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To help others discover their Personal Legend, something that also falls into the category of one aspect of my calling.  My personal mission has always been to help others reach their potential by using their God-given talents to the greatest extent possible in pursuing their dreams, whatever they are.  In the 1980s and 1990s I did this primarily through my motivational speaking and writing of columns and books and in the 2000s through my philanthropy and organizational work through not-for-profits.  

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do personal introspection to determine what turns them on, what makes them excited to get up in the morning and start the day and then go do that.  As Will Rogers said, “To be successful in life or work, you need to know what you’re doing, love what you’re doing and believe in what you’re doing.” 

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Intro

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Project Statement

A couple years ago, the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho kept showing up on my radar.  After hearing about it several times in just a few months, I thought it must be time to read it.

The Alchemist is an allegory about a Spanish shepherd named Santiago who dreams of treasure at the Pyramids and leaves his comfortable life to pursue his destiny.  Sometimes referred to as a calling, vocation, or life’s purpose, Coelho’s character, the king of Salem, calls it a Personal Legend.  “It’s what you’ve always wanted to accomplish,” he says. “Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

My Personal Legend is tied to my photography.  I seek to document life in order to build empathy and understanding among people because, despite surface differences, I believe we all share basic desires for love and a sense of purpose.

In working towards my Personal Legend, I have become interested in documenting people who are living theirs.  After first having this idea, I pushed it to the background as the pursuit of personal work felt frivolous when faced with the obligations of every day life.  However, as the king says, “To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation.”  When living your Personal Legend, all the other pieces will fall into place.

I’ve decided it’s time to move my Personal Legend along with a new project: photographing a new person every day for 30 days who is following their Personal Legend.  April 2016 is a great time to start.  It marks the beginning of my 35th year.  It leads into the arrival of my fourth child in May.  In thinking about fatherhood, I feel the best thing I can offer is to teach my children to be fully themselves and live their own Personal Legends by doing so myself.

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Me on day 1 of this project: April 1, 2016

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.  I figured that since I’m asking this of others, it only made sense for me to do it myself.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

To put it broadly, I want to be a unifier.  The purpose of my work is to bring people together.  I want viewers to see my photos and gain an understanding, both of the subjects and of themselves. I feel that building empathy in this way can help to connect people who might never cross paths physically.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I first realized I could use a camera to communicate on an 8th grade trip to Washington D.C.  I remember feeling a sense of connection to my surroundings when framing images through the viewfinder.  

As I paid more attention to photography in high school, I felt a greater understanding of current and historical events through photojournalism and documentary photography.  Being able to experience a moment at the same time as a photograph’s subject was much more powerful to me than any second or third-hand account I had ever heard or read.  I knew I wanted to create powerful imagery as well.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m shooting.  I quiet my thoughts and react to what’s happening around me.  I like to experience the flow of my surroundings.  When things are loud and busy I find myself moving around a lot, becoming part of the activity.  When I’m in a quiet and peaceful space, I react by moving calmly and taking photos sparingly so as not to disturb the mood.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

In order to pursue my photography as a career, instead of as a hobby, I’ve had to learn a business mindset.  This is something that wasn’t initially in my nature, but I’ve learned to look at it as another creative endeavor and that makes it much more interesting and engaging.

I used to think of “business” as a negative term.  In the naivety of my college years, I thought people who studied business were simply interested in money for the sake of money.  Fortunately, I got a little wiser.  Or maybe it was because I married a business major.  Either way, I’ve learned that knowing how to run a business is about supporting yourself and your family and giving you the means to pursue your life’s work.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

What I’m learning through my Personal Legend is how to be more present in all aspects of my life.  When I can take the way that I feel “in the zone” while creating images, and bring it to my personal life, it makes me a better husband, father and friend.  When I’m completely present with the people around me, it brings each of us more fulfillment.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

The longer you wait, the harder it is to start, but it’s never impossible.  As the excuses pile up, the reasons to not pursue your calling seemingly outnumber the reasons to try.  But really there is only one reason to try: It’s your life’s purpose.  And that one reason outweighs all others.  
 
Pick one goal to start.  Something that feels scary and a stretch, but just do it.  That’s what I decided to do with this project.  30 people in 30 days.  It’s a ton of work and there was a fear of failure present as I started asking people to participate, but I know that this is the right thing. In 10 days this idea has gone from conception to the first shoot day, today.  There are currently 21 people on board with another 20 potential subjects.  
 
When I finish these 30 days of this project it will lead to the next step, but until then, I can’t know what that next step is.  If nothing else, I will have met a lot of new interesting and exciting people and strengthened ties with a number of amazing people I already knew.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as I post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.