A cruel disease

Cancer. Lyme Disease. Diabetes. Heart disease. The world doesn't lack disease. Many are avoidable, some genetic but the others attack without warning. 

Two decades have past since we lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's. It robbed her of many things but the slow deterioration of her memory hurt the worst. I wasn't exactly mature enough to process the disease quite to the point I can today. But I was plenty old enough to know what was happening. 

My grandmother didn't know me.

My face doesn't register. 

She doesn't even recognize her husband and children. 

No one deserves to watch their loved one melt away to their core human form; devoid of themselves. 

All of these experiences were sad for me but imagine how my dad, grandfather, aunts and uncles felt, watching their mother and wife wilt. 

I know this disease can be cured. Even when my grandmother was completely gone, she still would show a glimmer of herself at times. Even when those she loved were lost from her memory, she never forgot my father. She smiled when he walked in the room. Call it random memory loss if you like. I call it hope. 

This October, my family and friends are taking part in the fight to cure Alzheimer's. We're taking part in the walk to raise awareness and donations to find a cure. 

If you can find it in your heart to donate even a few dollars, please do. Every donate will help. 

Our team has a very reachable goal of $1000 and I have a personal goal of $500. 

Please consider being part of hope. More information and the official Alzheimer's association donation page linked to my team are below. 

DONATE 

Thank you for reading, 

Write here...

Life. Renewed.

As most adults work nine to five, happy in their routines (or not), somewhere down the line fatigue takes a toll. It happens to the best of us.

Vacations help. Yoga, too. Praying. Breathing deeply for several minutes. Pick your preferred method to recharge the batteries. 

For me, a huge boost in energy and renewal of life made his appearance a week ago today.  

His name? Roman. My son. 

As you go about your week and year, I wish this feeling of renewed life for you, too. It may not be in the form of a human child you're responsible for keeping alive (and thrive) but I wish it nonetheless. 

Feeling powerless. A story worth sharing.

Tell me a story. 

If I had a guess, your story might be about yourself, a loved one, the time you went to Paris or maybe reminisce about a good time you had in college. 

Let me share a story.

It takes place in a third world country, where simple daily needs are difficult to come by. Food may or may not be served tonight. The children living there are down to their last pair of shorts and shirts. A storm blew the roof off a family's 'home' and now they are living outside in a makeshift tent. The community suffers from rampant alcoholism, meth dealers flocking from other lands because the rules don't apply here and every type of child neglect imaginable. Roaches crawl over someone's belongings in the corner. The majority of parents are a slave to their sins, so teenagers living there feel trapped, damned to follow in line. So they take their own life and no one notices; or it seems. 

Everything you just read is not about a third world country, it's right here in the United States. The story is about Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge reservation (and other towns like it) and there's nothing I can do to stop what happens there. 

I feel powerless.

Pay day comes for Natives. Time to get hammered in White Clay, Nebraska (just over the border) or on the reservation, where alcohol is 'not allowed'. Time to give Uncle Jim money for meth. The money is gone, forget food for the family this month; turn the calendar and repeat. Harsh, I know. Judging? Not at all when it's happening right in front of you. 

Poverty and addictions are nothing new. Go to the inner city. Go across the street. However, generation after generation give into their parents sins on this reservation in South Dakota. It's not mild addiction. It's full boar, life overtaken by the need. What has to change? 

My words are ineffective. 

Show me a struggling alcoholic in any major city or suburb and I'll counter with dozens of support centers, AA or drug groups or churches providing counseling to help break addictions and sin. On the reservation, you're the norm. Counseling centers? Right...

Any 'help' given on the reservation fades quickly. Churches nearby are not equipped to help like the churches in your area but God bless their attempts.  

Should a church feel powerless? 

Any words I type here do not describe what I witnessed in July of this year. The children on the reservation are wild and free like the open plains. They know no discipline. When you show them how to play nice with others, it's kin to an alien life form attempting to communicate with us. However, if you pick them up and give them a piggy back ride or hug them, a thirst is quenched like no other. Love is often replaced with neglect in Wounded Knee and any sign of affection (usually depending on the level of neglect) brings joy to the children's faces. It's guaranteed that child will never forget your face. They see Christ in that moment. 

Embrace that I can do nothing. 

Action breeds change. But I need to let this go and let God take things from here. Do me a favor and if you pray, think about adding Wounded Knee to the list today. Please keep an eye out on my site and social media, as I'm planning a long term project up in South Dakota. Real is the best description I can bring to this blog about the project; with a completion date in a few years. 

The situation is dire there. God can do all and I know only he can. So, I'll leave myself out of it. Thank you for reading. 

Please take a moment and see a very small sample size of my photos taken in and around Wounded Knee below. 


The power of self realization. Goals, organization and your mind.

Who are you and what are you capable of accomplishing? 

No motivational speech from some hack in a Holiday Inn express, I promise. 

When was the last time you simply stopped, took a few moments and truly evaluated yourself? Am I accomplishing what I want to accomplish? Am I going about it the right way? Why are my goals not being met, personally or professionally? 

Hard questions can result in tough truths. 

If you're smashing goal after goal then the below isn't really for you. Delete as needed or read along. 

A few items to consider when empowering your ability to self perceive: 

1. Are you aiming? 

- Sometimes we forget to actually AIM for something; a tangible goal you can see and touch. Don't wonder aimlessly through work or personal goals. Write a giant goal with many steps down on paper, make a tree with branches with each branch representing small steps to accomplish the larger goal at the root. As you conquer branch after branch, you'll be at the root before you know it. Use organizational tools like Evernote and Todoist. 

2. Where's the time to think? 

- Stopping to simply stop. Being still. The power of doing nothing; just being. Ideas and the ability to focus on thoughts long forgotten happen during this time. Take the 10 or 20 minutes to let your mind be free from worry. If your mind focuses on details, write it down and deal with it in due time. 

3. The power of 'done'. 

- You may have used this technique. Give it a try. Every time you complete a small task (sending a long email, filing a set of papers, setting up a conference call, setting up a light, you fill in the blank), simply say to your self in your head "Done". It's powerful. Simple, yet powerful. Motivation to keep working and moving forward. 

4. Learn, listen and act. 

- Education should never stop; SEVERAL things of note, detailed information, antidotes, etc. every single day. Whoever first said, "You learn something every day" should've actually said "If you don't learn several things a day and teach at least one person something new, the day is wasted." But that doesn't have the same ring to it, huh? 

5. Lastly, the power of music is real.

- If you need to focus, crank up the jazz. If you are jogging, rock out. I always set the soundtrack of my life to the moment. 

Go dominate your day, 

Erick

Do you love your job? If not, it's killing you

We all want to love our jobs, right? I mean who really wants a job they hate? Raise your hand...I'll wait. 

Inc. recently published an article referencing studies into the love of work (or hate of said job). 

You can read the article here: Inc. 

Highlights from the article:

Happy equals healthy; seems common sense enough. 

A great job = community ties. People are generally more eager to collaborate with happy and confident, not perceived misery. GO HOME MR. GRINCH. 

A purpose. I will never retire, by the way. It's way too obvious boredom as we age equals six feet under, in my opinion. 

LESS STRESS!!! Stress is the killer we all forget about sometimes. 

Being challenged assists in maintaining mental sharpness. Sudoku need not apply. Although, I love a good word search.

If you don't LOVE your job, maybe it's time to evaluate your situation. Perhaps there's a way to make your current situation less stressful, more challenging or create a bit more fun. If not, we only live once...

Advice: You know that hobby you are passionate about? Research how you can slowly monetize your passion and maybe, just maybe, you can walk out on that stressful job one day. 

No horsing around! Good luck! 




Giving it away and Giving back

Photographers. Artist. Teachers. Doctors. You. 

We all have some type of skill set. Yes, you use this craft to make money or accomplish life goals but there should be a point in your life when you stop and ask yourself, "How can I help someone else?"

It's a question that most ignore with excuses: Work is crazy. There's just no time. I'm not sure how to start? It's just too hard.  

While a lot of those reasons are legit, from time to time they just can't stick.

At some point all of us are presented with an opportunity to help others. Let's put this in perspective for a moment. 

- You worked 55 hours this week

- The kids have violin practice, soccer and a birthday party to attend this week (oh, and a gift to buy)

- The washer is acting up and you need someone to fix it but in the meantime, the laundry is pilling up

- Your truck is seriously going to blow up if you don't change the oil soon

Sound about right? All our weeks are different and crazy. But how about the simple idea of doing one little kind gesture for another human once a week? Not every day but once a week! That's doable right? 

Perhaps more time tasking acts of kindness can be worked in, like a mission trip, volunteering for a couple days at your local soup kitchen, mowing an elderly person's lawn or planning a surprise birthday party for a friend. 

Now, back to your skill set and talents. 

How can you apply those skills to help make this world better? So, my challenge to you is take a moment today and think of one simple way to really make an impact. Even the smallest of gestures make a huge difference. 

Doctors: Offer up your service or advice to someone you know is really sick, even though you know they can't pay for it. Teachers: Tudor a struggling kid for free because you know they are capable! Photographers: give your work away to a cause you really believe in! Lawyers: invest in a young law student and help them learn the ropes. Janitors: offer to help a friend in need when you normally would say you're too tired. 

Fill in your blank. Fill up your fell good tank. Yes, helping others does return the favor, too. There's nothing wrong about feeling good about doing good. Remember...someone may return the favor one day. 

The photographs in this post are a few examples of my photographs for Room in the Inn - Nashville, TN. A local homeless ministry that partners with several local churches in the area. 

Thanks for reading. 

 

Create. No excuses.

Last Thursday, I had planned an outing to photograph...well, whatever was around me! Basically, just a day to explore and photograph with no plans or agenda. 

The bummer part of this story is that rain decided to come along for the ride (all day). 

{Insert lazy thoughts of staying in, reading a good book and possibly fit in a nap}

After staring outside for a couple minutes, I thought, "Why would I let the weather ruin the creative process?" I mean, seriously? What's not to love (minus the freezing temps and rain)?

Rain definitely adds to scenery. Landscapes become foggy and defused, moss and plants begin to drip their atmospheric invaders and brown plain ground becomes moving earth. 

What is your 'rain'? Is it physical rain sometimes? Maybe your equipment isn't 'good enough'. Many times, it is time itself. So, here's my challenge for you in February:

DO NOT LET THE RAIN (insert your roadblock for the day here) STOP YOU.  Express yourself, run after that idea and conquer your hesitation. You'll thank yourself later. {More images below}

Erick