Thursday, May 8, 2014

Self Promotion

I'm sure there are many out there wondering what the heck I am doing now...(I can hear your wheels turning--"I thought she was a photographer...???"--I am and still taking new clients, because momma's got to bring home some bacon to make up for my subpar cooking & cleaning skills. "I thought she was working on a project about people from all over the world...??"--The World in My Backyard is still a major work in progress that am passionate about and continues to be a part of my everyday life.  I never anticipated it providing me with the most incredible experiences.  The project impacts me almost every day and  I am hoping this blog provides me an avenue to share how individuals I met/meet through the project profoundly impact me.  When I started the project in 2012, I believed it was going to be very easy and straight-forward.  Meet people and write about them.  I quickly became overwhelmed by how much the people were enriching my life, as well as my family's lives.  My idea for a book soon shifted to creating ways for people to open up to strangers and experience the magic that happens.  Due to work/family responsibilities and my inhibitions, the project has been dormant for the past year.  But I can feel my feet getting back underneath me, the wind in my sails is starting to kick back up and I am excited about getting back to work on The WMB.
The first step is my "self promotion".  I have been self-employed for 15 years.  I have never wanted a title or fancy letters (i.e. MD, PhD, JD...) following my name.  I was always content with Tara Clark, photographer. This has changed.  As the owner/operator (a designation given to while filing my taxes each year), I made the executive decision to create an entirely new position that I don't think has ever been held in the world..."Human Connectivity Conservationist".
I have been considering the HC Conservationist position for almost a year.  I shared the job title with my husband and kids last summer.  The questioning looks and eye rolling made me think twice and I shelved the title.  But I am now mustering the courage to own my dream job.
First, I will share how I developed the title I think is perfect for me to fill.  Last June, I was invited by a special Seattle friend to join her at National Geographic's 125th anniversary celebration in Washington, DC.  Once I scraped myself off the floor from amazement, I jumped at the invitation.  It was a three day event.  Each day had panel discussions with 2014 NG Emerging Explorers culminating in an evening gala.  I could not wait!! We left Seattle at the crack of dawn, arriving in D.C. just in time for the first panel discussion.  For three days, I listened to inspired explorers from all different fields of work (from conservation biologist to roboticists to artists).  Each emerging explorer made me want to learn more about their area of study--and there were many areas that I really never held my attention.  They moved me.  On the plane home, I thought a lot about the emerging explorers.  I was not envious of the work they had done or the adventures they had experienced, I was envious that they were living their passion and it was inspiring others to follow their work and be moved to help the environment and the world.  I asked myself the question, "If you were a conservationist, what is it you would want to conserve?"  Immediately I thought about how passionate I am about human connection.  I thought, "I am a human connectivity conservationist!"  I felt like there should be a bell ringing ding, ding, ding...that is it!  And I wrote it in my infrequently used journal while still on the plane:
And it has remained shut inside the book since I returned and mentioned the idea to my family.  Their eye rolling and questioning looks affirmed that I was crazy and had no idea what I was thinking.  "Tuck away the dumb idea, stop dreaming and get back to what you know and do well--photography, 'cause you will look like a fool if you start talking about conserving human connectivity!!"  My ego was shouting, "You do not want to look or sound like a crazy person!  And you definitely don't want to look like a complete failure trying to start something you cannot succinctly explain!  Stop now!" 
The last year has slipped by with me trying to figure out how to get back to The WMB and a way to honor the individuals' life stories while conveying all that I have learned and the lasting impact they were having on my life.  "Why is it so important for me to share my WMB experiences and dream of inspiring others to be open to new connections?" I was constantly asking myself.  I tried to convince myself it would be okay if I had gained so much for the project already and that is enough in and of itself.  But deep down in me, I knew that wasn't true.  And then last week I saw the "Look Up" video that has gone viral:
This year a friend started calling me "The Stranger Whisperer" and more frequently I am hearing, "You are not normal".  I have decided to take these as compliments and start sharing how my unplanned human connections touch me, teach me, change me, inspire me, activate me...and perhaps starting my dream job as a Human Connectivity Conservationist I will inspire someone to "look up" and take a baby step outside their comfort zone.  I have discovered thoughtful, amazing, inspiring individuals walk in our midst every day and there is always so much more to a person than what I assume from the outside.  I can learn something new from them if I am open to letting my guard down and connecting.  
Jumping off a cliff and hoping to soar but my head is filled with thoughts that may cut my rip cord and send me tumbling.  I guess new job jitters are normal.  Hopefully the "What the heck are you doing??  You don't even know what you're doing!!  What if you fail??" thoughts will subside as I settle into the job I been dreaming about!
Stay tuned and let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me.  Every new job comes w/ constructive criticism and I know I will need quite a bit of it!

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