I’ve been stewing on this post for a while now –  writing it multiple times just to scratch every copy in an attempt to keep this from turning into an autobiography. My life has not been deemed worthy of a hollywood blockbuster yet, so why bother? Recently my heart has been communicating to my brain for the first time in a while and I find myself here.

Like I said, I don’t want this to be a huge blog about how I got here – but we need backstory. I’ll keep it brief.

I just about butchered my reputation throughout my adolescence. If you were to ask anyone who knew me growing up, they would tell you I was the loud outspoken kid who couldn’t sit still and did just about anything for attention. I fed off it. I tried way too hard to find myself inside of what others thought of me.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started running with the right people – people who accepted me for who I was. I found my Faith, which helped me to develop characteristics that I value greatly today. The day I picked up a camera  my life changed drastically. I had finally found something that came kind of natural. It was something I felt inside of myself that I really didn’t have to try too hard to understand. And that’s not to say I was a natural at all. I’ve had an immense amount of help getting to where I am today by a large amount of people who I could never repay in a thousand years. And then one day I went from 0 to 100.

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I had been given my dream Job/Paid-Internship making films full-time with a respected studio company out of Minnesota. We’ll save the cool/long story of how it all came about for a rainy day but for now all you need to know is I had showed up to Minnesota with two suitcases of everything I had owned not knowing what to expect. Next thing I know I get thrown into the mix with a top-notch team working on projects for big name clients. I had just come from working on small projects for no name clients, so I couldn’t help feeling like I had made it somewhere. In the wake of all of the coolness that had just rocked my life I started getting good at sharing everything that was happening on social media. My world was getting rocked and I needed someone to know, but I felt I had nobody else to share it with. 

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In the course of traveling all across the country, working with really amazing people, and doing these really cool things I had developed an internet following. People who once thought I was a complete tool growing up now looked at my Instagram profile and thought I was doing something worthy and hip with my life. I felt like I had finally found who I was, and redeemed my adolescent idiocy by living what appeared to be a cool life on the internet.

So much attention came so fast that I got lost in all the hype. I started sharing things to get people to notice what I was doing. I wasn’t going to appreciate a photo unless someone else liked it. That was my motivation. It got to the point where it felt as though that was all I had. I slowly but surely become so conflicted by how consuming it had become that I had to take a step back and re-evaluate my thought process.

Then, my time in Minnesota had come to an end. It turned out the sweet Job/Paid-intership I was hoping to turn into something long term, wasn’t ideal for the company. I was devastated. I got a shortcut to the top of an industry, then a year later had to pack up my bags and go home to start over. It was a big lesson in humility. 

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I thought that if I was the best there was, there’d be no way they wouldn’t want me to be a part of the team. It fueled me. Up until just recently my entire motivation for producing great work was to show the guys back in Minnesota that I was capable of being the best in hopes they’d realize they needed me. That one day my phone would ring, and I’d be offered a spot on their team again… 

But why? 

Why couldn’t I be content with the opportunities that I was given on my own? Why have I constantly felt like I have to prove something to somebody?

These questions kept reoccurring on long flights and drives to photo shoots – so much that I couldn’t ignore them. I felt like all the questions morphed into one. 

What do I have to offer?

I see this a lot with people. Their identities get so wrapped up in what they do, that when they are no longer able to do whatever it is they do best they are lost without a clue of who they are. I’ve heard of professional soccer players who after breaking their legs are never able to play the sport again, and have mental breakdowns. Could it be because they no longer know what they had to offer besides their talents? I thought about this a lot and wondered, “what if I was not able do what I do forever?” Who would I be? 

Ever since I can remember, people have always opened up to me about their deepest and darkest secrets.  Somehow they didn’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else but me. I have no idea why, but people have always shared things that were really personal to them in hopes I would know what to say. I started asking people why they felt led to divulge certain information with me? And the answer I’ve received from everyone is that I make them feel safe. They felt safe enough to confide in me which is a huge deal. It started when brides would write me after their wedding thanking me not only for my hard work and beautiful photos, but how I made them feel on their special day. “You made me feel secure enough, that I knew you had control. I was actually able to just enjoy the moments that were happening.” 

Just recently I started walking in more confidence that if I were to lose the ability to create or unable share my visual talents with the world, I would now know what I embody. Something  I can’t explain that I carry. A presence that shows up when I show up. I make people feel safe and comfortable. That to me is worth more than anything creative I do, and it will lasts as long as I last.

I hope that others can find what it is inside of them apart from what they can physically do. To know that I am a brother, a son, friend, and hopefully a husband someday. Helps me know that my identity lies outside of what I can deliver. What I have to offer is me.

 

Sometimes I catch myself wondering why certain things happen to me in various situations. Exploring things that maybe not everybody will walk through and also thinking about “Why do I have to go through this?”

 

I have a really close relationship with my mom I think I’m closer to her than I am with some of my closest friends. We talk about all kinds of things from funny happenings to very deep personal things. I tell her everything (Which everyone should be able to with their mom). Now I think my mom hasn’t had the easiest go at life, not to say everyone does (I’m making this point).  She has made some great, bad. and tough decisions. One of those was the choice of leaving me and my father. To say the least my mom has walked through life lessons and learned things head on.

 

I tell you all of this because what my mom has done by facing all these difficult tough decisions head on, has paved a way for me to learn from everything that she has done and allows me to make choices upon those of which dictate my way of thinking.

 

I began thinking the other day about my desire to be married and finding the girl of my dreams and how often times the girl I like or place in my imagination to be “The One” turns out to not be just that. All of the trouble I have faced with relationships became  journal in my mind of what worked and what didn’t. Wishing I had more insight into things I didn’t cause nobody I knew had walked through what I had in certain situations.

I thought if I have a son one day all his questions and all the rough patches in my life I could totally shed light and wisdom on the things that worked out for me and what didn’t. Just like what my mom did for me.

 

Now I’m still figuring this out as I get older but, I’m starting to believe my mom went through things so that I don’t have to.  What maybe my mom didn’t know at the time is that the choices sacrifices she’s made, allowed me to not have to walk through what she has.

 

Ask yourself that if what your going through will benefit someone else out there. That maybe this hardship isn’t just tough you, but your walking through it so that someone else doesn’t have to.

So next time something is hard and challenging encourage yourself that this to will pay off someday for someone else good.

Something that a lot of people might not know about me is that I have been struggling with anxiety for the past year and a half. Anxiety is something straight from the depths of hell. It causes one to panic, confusion, and to act and think irrationally. The worst part are the physical symptoms such as shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and lack of sleep.

ImageThere are triggers to anxiety as to what can cause or bring it up. And in most cases it’s fear.  Especially in my case, anytime I begin to get anxious or feel panic, I feel as if something underlying is wrong with my health as if I could keel over any minute and die. Which is common in most Generalized anxiety diagnosis.

Finding a way out of this dark night of my soul has been a struggle.  People that know me, know that I love and believe in Jesus and that God protects and heals. But, amidst the storm that I am in it is very difficult to keep my eyes open and cling to what I know and is safe.

Really the only that is comforting in this situation for me is my family and parents.  Which there is significance to me.  When you were young and something was wrong with you and you went to the doctor, it was so assuring hearing your mom and dad say “Everything is going to be ok.”

So for me it is really difficult hearing I’m gonna be fine from anyone but, my parents.

The part that is tricky is I am living alone and far from home. So when someone is scared or in fear the immediate thought is to get somewhere safe. Which for me is home and close to my family. But, I am grown up now, I can’t just run home whenever I’m scared. That won’t help me deal with things that everyone and the world deals with.  I began thinking about my future wife and family. How can I lead them if I’m afraid. What happens if my anxiety comes back when I’m married with kids and have the ultimate breakdown? I can’t run home to mom and dad.

I began to think last night after talking to my mom. She reminded me of the story in Luke 8:22 where Jesus calms the storm.

Image Jesus and his disciples decide to cross the lake from Galilee to the region of Gerasenes. So they got on a boat and set out to cross the lake. As they took off Jesus fell asleep and a huge storm came and began to sink the boat. The men were in panic.

Now think about this for a second that moment when these men were seeing these waves crash into the boat and thinking about there whole life and watching it flash in front of their eyes. They in that moment thought they were gonna die. The men then go and wake up Jesus who was sleeping the whole time. Jesus wakes up to the men fearful of there lives probably.  He then calms the storm, then asks the men “Where is your faith?”

Jesus was there the whole time. Asleep.

I sometimes forget that God is with me always. To calm any storm. But, where is my faith. Why do I panic and not call on him immediately? Why do allow lies to engulf my thoughts?

Now I know that writing this may or may not bring peace to those in the same storm, but if anything I hope that brings you to the place that when nothing else will keep your boat afloat you will hit your knees and pray.

Wake up Jesus.

He will calm your storm.

I promise. He calms mine every time.

Definitions of Love..

November 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

We all have a definition of Love and to each their own.  Some people may feel that love is this certain thing and, someone can think the complete opposite. Some people define love based on whether or not their counterpart eats a cheeseburger the same way they do thinking to themselves “Surely this person is just like me so I love them.”  But, then again that is what makes us all unique.

At the end of the movie “Notthing Hill” there is this scene where Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant are sitting on a park bench.  While Hugh Grant is reading a book, Julia Roberts is laying on the bench resting her head on hugh staring at all the kids running and playing.  They are not doing anything but sitting.  They know exactly where the other persons heart lies and words simply can’t measure up.  For me this is my definition of love.  That place where you can just be with someone and it’s more than natural. That “Being” is sufficient enough.

You see we work too hard to make things work.  Even times it cost us to not be ourselves.  I was talking to a friend of mine and she was hanging out with this guy and told me “I don’t even know what to do when I’m with him, I’ve never been in a relationship before.”  The best advice I could give her was to just be natural and to be herself regardless of what it costs her.  Because the moment when something is forced, it’s trying to put something in a place that’s not meant to go.

It seems that if we are being authentic with ourselves and with others is when we can have these park bench type moments because the other person knows you for who you are which is true intimacy and the best way to look at intimacy is In to me you see.  Because if you allow someone to fully look into and be in your life. That person loves and appreciates you for who you are and can just sit with you then there is no room for fear.  Which is a peaceful feeling to think regardless of everything this person loves me for me no matter what.

I believe when I find that person for me to spend the rest of my life with she is gonna get the directors cut of JD.  Not the person I want to be or the person I was but, who I am right now.  Fully open and not afraid to hide anything.  Because if she can love me for who I am right now, she will love who I become in the future and love me for who I have been. I want to be able to sit with her on a bench and not have to say anything but, just feel her next to me and know we both love each other.  Because in that moment the state of hoping is surpassed by knowing.

So… Ask yourself what is your definition of Love?

Are you being truly authentic with the person you’re talking to?

Are you trying hard to put a puzzle piece in the wrong spot?

But, most of all can you imagine yourself sitting on a bench with this person and not have to say a word?

How do you like your eggs?

November 11, 2012 — 1 Comment

In the movie Runaway bride Julia Roberts plays the character of Maggie Carpenter who has left  3 fiancés at the altar giving her the nickname The Runaway Bride.  With each man she is with, maggie adopts their preferences and in this case it’s how her fiancés like the way their eggs are cooked.  Richard Gere plays the part of Ike Graham, who is a columnist for USA Today.

Ike exposes the fact that Maggie doesn’t really know who she is, or what she wants out of life or in men.  She adopts what looks appealing and makes it her own instead of finding herself.  So with every guy she is with she eats her eggs the same way they do.  In the movie Ike confronts maggie and tells her “You are so lost you don’t even know what kind of eggs you like!”   Until the end of the movie Maggie shows up in Ikes apartment and explains that after leaving groom #4 she realizes actually how she likes her eggs. Benedict. Not scrambled, over easy, or egg whites.  She finally could eat her eggs the way she liked them.  Because she had found herself, better yet she had met someone who appreciated her for who she was and allowed her to be herself.

There are so many ways of looking at this analogy… But, the place I want to come from is that if you like something ask yourself why you really like it.  Why do you like the way you like your eggs?  Because the more you really know why you like something or someone, the more security you’ll have in your awnser.  I’ve heard so many stories of people not really knowing how they like things until it seems too late… Then someone gets hurt or marriages are ruined because that person thought they knew their counter part until realizing that special someone didn’t really know who they were because of the others lack of identity.

Being 23 I don’t know everything but, I can say I have tried a few kinds of eggs and still trying others.  I wasn’t set on just one thing, because how can I really know how I like something until I’ve tried something else.

In the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower the main character Charlie is in love with a girl that is settling for someone who treats her poorly.  Charlie then asks his teacher Mr. Anderson “Why do we make bad choices or enter into bad relationships? Mr. Anderson replies “Because we except the love we think we deserve.”

What if that is all that she knew how to be treated? What if she had never been treated great by a man.  Because all she had known is what she thinks she deserves.  Imagine if she was treated a certain way that was great?! She would never settle again for something that was lesser than what she had already experienced? You would never know until you have had something else…

Please ask yourself how you like your eggs?

Do you even like eggs?

Why do you like them that way?

Have you tried others to know that those are your favorite?

Life is too short to just eat your eggs one way…

I sat down next to my friend Brian at the cafe in our church today, and I opened my computer and He saw my desktop picture which is a picture of my grandfather in WWII. Then we began talking  about how much my generation has lost everything that it was built on.  From literature, classic films, to great jazz music.  Explaining to him, how much I focused on the olden days and how I wished things could be like that now.

My Desktop picture of my grandfather in WWII

He leaned over and told me “JD 40 years from now people are gonna wonder how you did things today.” It sent me through a loop, because of the endless cycle of trying to get back to the way someone pioneered it ahead of you.  Brian then told me “Today is today, you have to do things how you are going to do them. Be yourself and everything will fall into place.”

I sat there dumbfounded thinking, ok how can I cultivate the old yet, make it relevant?  If we do things in our own way, with the understanding of how legends ahead of us did them, than we can shape our creativity and chase after the same things they did.

I just think about how it wasn’t about money or popularity back then but, for the sake of something new.  See in my era everything is digital, everything is abled to be clouded.  Back then everything that was created and had a lifespan if it wasn’t preserved.  Now You can hand over you lifetimes worth of work in a 3 terabyte hardrive.

With all this being said I want to create and do things for the sake of creation.  Something that will be preserved that people from 40 years from now, try and figure out how I did things and wrestle with the fact that, they can learn from me and be there whole self.  To use techniques that they didn’t know they had and draw from a place, that they didn’t know was there.

We can’t live in the past, nor in the future, but be fully alive right now in this moment.

I was all alone in my house when I turned on 500 days of summer, within 15 minutes of me watching it, I began to think deeply about Hope.  For some reason I was puzzled and frozen to where I couldn’t  watch any further.  Maybe it was the fact that this movie was about  a guy who loses the girl he was so madly in love with, that when his friends said that there is plenty of fish in the sea, that Tom (the main character) said “I don’t want anyone else, I want summer.”

For some reason this stopped me.  I don’t know why, but a brief portrayal of hope. As I sat there with the TV paused immediately the art of fly fishing came to mind.

The art of fly fishing is so beautiful.  The Fact that there are two options when you cast a line.  Gratification and loss.

You spend your whole day and time setting up, traveling some where just to put hope on a thin piece of string.  To send it out on a whim.  If you talk to any fly fisherman it doesn’t matter how good you are, how much work you put in, how much time you devote to your fly. You cast and pray you walk away with getting the luxury of catching something. Hope is what keeps men coming back to fish.   Erwin Mcmanus says “Our ability to endure, to preserve, to overcome is fueled by this one seemingly innocuous ingredient called hope.” Imagine you are in the middle of a rushing river, in the blistering cold. Everything in your head is telling you to get out.  Yet, you cast.  You real it in.  Nothing.  You could get out and go home.  Or you stay in.  You cast.  You throw your fly out with hope that you finally get a bite.  Then all of sudden you catch a fish!  You reel it in.  That moment where all of the suffering and work was worth it.  Then you take the hook out of the fish’ mouth to release it and let it go.

May you always have hope and the end of your cast.  That no matter what your time fishing was never in vain.  That every moment you work for the catch, that it was never wasted.  Yet every second of holding that fish  was worth every second of your time.