When I was ten I stumbled on this PBS special which showcased a bunch kids operating an ice cream store. Adults must have been in the background, but from my perspective it was children doing the work. And it was the pinnacle of fascination. I spent the next year dreaming up ways that I could save up for my own store.
Fast forward to my late teens when I saw Tracy Porter on Oprah. I think the segment was about young entrepreneurs or something. What I remembered was that she'd painted some trays in her chicken coop, piled them into a New York trade show, and created an astonishingly creative business.
Of course (now) I know that nothing's ever that easy. Just starting this business took two years of excruciating research, long hours, and pushing through sometimes devastating dissapointments. I remember one day my mom called during that time. I was juggling a full time portrait business, three kids, my marriage, this other business that existed only in my imagination, plus everything in between. She asked me how I was and I burst into tears. Then I reassured her not to worry because it was just my 'cry for the day'. That year, those moments were routine. So I don't mean to be flip about anyone's accomplishments. And in no way do I imply that Tracy painted some trays and then boom! had her dream life.
Still, after I saw her appearance (in all my illustrious naivety) I was determined to Paint Trays. You think I'm kidding, but if you look into my cabinets you will see Martha's graveyard. There are mounds of fabric, paints, ribbons, paper, wood, canvases, and everything anyone could ever need to make cookies, candles, necklaces, pillows, paintings. You name it, and there was a time in my life that I was going to do it.
Looking back now, I realize my fascination wasn't so much with owning a business, as much as it was with people who seemed to break free from what's expected. Whether it's the guy who's on a quest to visit every country in the world, the transplanted American building a boutique hotel in Morrocco, or the mom who home-schools her kids because it affords her more freedom, I'm enthralled with people who decide to live life in a unique way that authentically suits them.
And there are few people I've met who exemplify this idea more than Maggie Mason. I hesitate to use the word "introduce" here, because unless you've been living on the Jessop compound for the last ten years, there's a good chance you already know her. If however, you just got released and have managed to make your way out to purchase your first computer, congratulations! And let me introduce you to Bryan and Maggie Mason (plus insanely adorable Hank). They are both as smart and funny as they are unassuming. So while you think you should be intimidated by all their accomplishments, you can't help but relax and order another margarita. Which I've since decided should be mandatory after every photo session.
Such a fun day.
Music: Dashboard Confessional, Carry This Picture and Aretha Franklin, Baby I Love You.
If you're wondering how all this came about, it was because of Maggie's Life List. This post is getting long, but in a nutshell, she's kind of known for them. I might be imagining this, but I think at one point on her blog she said something along the lines of how we always make lists for the drudgery. And so why not make a list for the fun stuff? After all, it's likely that no one will ever knock on your door and tell you it's time to ride an elephant or go wine tasting in Napa. And as someone with workaholic tendencies, this really resonated with me. But at the time, I felt like it was her thing. Because let's face it, with companies like Verizon and Intel sponsoring her adventures, it's easy to make the assumption that she was The President Of Life Lists.
Then I read Karen's post after our awesome Houston trip, and about 5 minutes later I decided to write my own. It's just taken me, oh... a few months to get to posting it online. But during this time, I've actually checked off a quite a few items. And that has only made me believe even more in the power of writing stuff down. So (wow, this is a big nutshell, BUT) one of Maggie's list items was that she'd wanted to have family portraits done. I knew I was going to be in San Francisco. And one of my list items was that I wanted to shoot a family in SF Chinatown, so we coordinated! As you can see though, these were not taken in Chinatown. And that's because I realized five minutes into being there that I couldn't have picked a worse location. So (like life) we rolled with it, and it turned out to be a fantastic afternoon.
And the reason I'm posting it here instead of on my regular porait site is because this is the start of a series on this blog which will be called "Life as you picture it". We'll be featuring various people around the world, who have managed to create interesting, uncommon lives. So if that sounds like you, or someone you know, please email email@example.com.
And in order to practice what I've preached, I've decided to finally post my list here online (tomorrow because this is one long post!).
And thank you Maggie for the inspiration. What you are doing is truly revolutionary.