'Seeds: Talking Purpose' Podcast with Steven Moe

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Steven Moe, a corporate and commercial lawyer based in Christchurch, New Zealand, and had a solid, fun, recorded conversation on purpose and life. Steven recently published a legal handbook on social enterprises in the country and has been doing interviews with entrepreneurs and social enterprises about their journeys on his podcast named 'Seeds: Talking Purpose'. I feel honored to have been invited to be on the podcast. The growing list of humans and their truly impressive set of accomplishments and contributions to earth and society are humbling. 

Steven masterfully guided the conversation from my childhood to teenager years as an immigrant, as he waives into it his own story and aspirations, and we move into my university days and during that the exposure to the greater world, its beauty, its problems, my craft, and my finding of sometimes-often bumpy pathways that have taken me where I am currently.  As Steven articulates it even better than I can, "...In this interview we talk about his early life in Hong Kong, immigrating to the United States as a child, what formed him and gave him a sense of direction, his involvement in the Beacon Food Forest, a community-driven food-producing garden and forest in the city, work in Nepal after the earthquakes and his views about photography as a form of art and what makes capturing moments in time through photos so special."

Big thanks, Steven! The podcast can be listened to directly below or through the Seeds: Talking Purpose website.

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2017 End of Year Time-Lapse Reel

Here's a little treat I have compiled together of time-lapse highlights from 2017. They represent 4 of the countries I've had the lovely opportunity to spend time in and photograph. Everything is going to fly by quickly and there is no fancy editing except for sequence change to a few beats. Don't blink because in this short video your eyes will see tens of thousands of images representing tens of hours compressed into 85 seconds. Happy new year everyone!

Music by the incredible The Polish Ambassador - 'Dark Between Stars'

Poem Gift

Written by a new friend and gifted to me on Christmas. What a special treat!

'Light Painting'

Your eye is
the camera.

Your heart is
the lens.

Your mind is the
focus.
Look out for the light
that sliver of time,
that fragile crystalline moment
that will reveal
a hidden dimension.
Turn a photo into portraits. Into art.

Reveal something new
like an explorer’s first map
of an unknown country.
First steps. First dawns. First light.
Showing what
was previously unknown.

Pull back layers to reveal
something about them and perhaps
more importantly,
about yourself.

So keep telling their stories.
Keep painting, with light.

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Words-thoughts through a rough patch

It's incredible how easily our emotions can get turned upside down simply by a few words from the right individual. 
I've been, for the most part, riding on a high since landing in New Zealand 46 days ago. From reuniting with old friends, speaking for the first time in front of an audience of 500, attending an immensely inspirational conference of change makers, meeting heaps of new friends and making professional contacts, living and working in a new environment, exploring the wide open spaces and all the nooks and crannies in between, to reaffirming my own purpose and value in life -- this past month and a half has been enjoyable as well as enlightening.
I don't believe many people, including my friends and family members, understand why I do what I do and the unique rewards plus challenges that this lifestyle brings. For starters, it's easy to romanticize my travels as a never-ending fairytale of wanderlust and adventure. It's easy to look at my Instagram & Facebook feed and be "so jealous." It's easy to be mesmerized by the kaleidescope of colors, textures, foods, landscape, humans, sunsets, and moments of joy that I have meticulously captured and curated to organize, edit, caption, and share with you and the world wide web. That, my friends, is not the full picture. No one's social media accounts is ever the full picture. Anyone who thinks it's anywhere close completely undermines the platter of human emotions and spirit that makes life both challenging and endearing.
Like you, I sometimes-often struggle to get out of bed. I have had mornings, afternoons, and evenings where I sit there, with both palms of my hands in my face, thinking and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my heart (e.g. just now). Everyone's been there. I don't think I've been honest enough to myself to articulate and post those moments, too.

"... follow your dreams... But I do pray that you will settle down somewhere with a job/family one day."

The 'But' negates everything prior.

"... just something to make a decent living..."

Because I don't?
Because not having 5, 6, 7 digits in my bank account says I am not successful? Because my conscious decision not to hold down a regular job while putting down a mortgage to pursuit some rotten fantasy capitalistic societal propaganda "American Dream" makes me any less valuable? Because I choose to put my own happiness and the greater good of humanity and the earth before my financial earnings prove that I am not worthy?
Don't slap your right hand with your left. Don't say "I am proud of you" when the next thing out of your mouth is "will you settle down." I can't take this contradicting bullshit. 
I've been working hard and living a decent life. I don't need $50,000+ USD/year to live "happily." Hell I don't even need $10,000 in most parts of the world. Don't and stop using the standards that have worked well for others on me. "Getting a job", "make more money", "settle down", and "have a family" are NOT things I have needed nor need at the moment. 
I was brought up to be a decent human being, and I've been living within the moral ethics that you and many teachers have instilled in me. I in turn have done what I could to spread that to more people I come across who are younger, around the same age, and even older. Isn't that enough? Why does my happiness, my lasting joy, need to conform to some guidelines of the past? Can you really believe that there is one road map in this quest of life? I am not drug dealing. I am not harming anybody. I choose work that fulfill and cultivate meaning and purpose. I choose to invest in knowledge and in learning from the world instead of financing a $60,000 vehicle. I choose to serve those in need while nurturing my evolving needs and interests. I have supportive friends who nurture my creativity and sense of curiosity. Most of them bring zero monetary value to my life, yet their presence, their lessons, and their companionship are invaluable. That is all I could really ask for. 
Do you know how hard it is to uphold this nomadic, creative life? Do you know how many moments I have to stand strong in the face of defeat, failure, and disappointments one after another while thousands of kilometers away from familiar faces and loved ones? Do you realize the difficulty and the sustained strength necessary to continue staying inspired and to inspire when the media splits out tragedy day in day out, when I am aware that the ice caps are rapidly melting, the carbon and sea levels are rising, the soil are eroding, the ecosystems are being destroyed, with species rapidly going extinct, that there is widespread injustice, fear, hunger, pain, suffering all across the world, and folks undervalue your work, never pay you, and some even ask you to work for free? Do you really know?

Don't say "proud" so casually anymore. It's like cry wolf. You say that, and say something else enough times, and I won't even believe it anymore.

Tomorrow is a new day. Onwards.

Interview with Upstream Daily

Major gratitude to Alex & Fraser of Upstream Daily for doing what they do -- recording and spreading inspiration for me and so many others who tune in all around New Zealand and beyond. This was a memorable moment for me as it was just my 4th day in the country but yet I had already felt so welcome and supported by a thriving community of do-good-ers at the Social Enterprise World Forum. In this short interview, I talk about Conscious Impact - its founding, what our global and local team has accomplished together in the past 2 and a half years in Nepal, and also some personal inspiration and advice in being a creative professional.

PechaKucha Night Christchurch

What a special treat to find that PechaKucha named my presentation to be "Presentation of the Day" on their blog! It was my first time speaking and presenting in front of a group of 500+ and must say it was a bit daunting and I felt underprepared to deliver my best. 
Regardless, a heartfelt thanks to the Pecha Kucha Night Christchurch team, especially Erica Austin-Knopp, in putting together an amazing event and making this a reality for me. Also shoutout to Peter Wells, A.J. Kennedy, and Allison Zetts for supporting me and being there that evening! 
Check out my talk and the 20 images I chose at: http://www.pechakucha.org/presentations/finding-purpose-through-travel-service-and-photography

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Jennifer & Tom Wedding

Now this is a wedding I'll be talking about for a while.

I've known both Tom and Jennifer since 2009 and 2010, respectively, and we've really gotten to know each other well having lived and spent time in and around Seattle between 2015-2016. I simply had a blast being with them while meeting and photographing their family and friends spanning across the states, plus Honduras and Ghana. There were about 120 wedding guests, and most opted to stay in the rustic cabins or pitched their own tents in the woods of Camp Cedarcrest in the town of Orange, Connecticut. I already love the outdoors and so an all-outdoor wedding feels very natural, especially when the temperature and weather were so agreeable as they were that whole weekend. Like many family members and guests, I arrived early to help out with the setup of the wedding. Jennifer and Tom opted to Do-It-Yourself, which involved many of us putting up lights, posts, signs, torches, set up games, tables, and also the phoot booth. It was such a fun experience making it all happen and nearly immediately watch everyone enjoy the space that we'd just created. I am tremendously grateful for their friendship and feel honored to be their wedding photographer. Many more years of friendship ahead, I am certain. A huge and heartfelt congratulations to you two! 

We took this photo several months after their engagement in 2015 on an overnighter bicycle trip to Orcas Island. So amazing to have cultivated a deep friendship together and capture their special day!

We took this photo several months after their engagement in 2015 on an overnighter bicycle trip to Orcas Island. So amazing to have cultivated a deep friendship together and capture their special day!

Here are the hand-picked favorites from our 2 days together. Scroll further to see a few bonus photos and words at the end. 

I remember Jennifer & Tom saying very specifically that, "we wanna make sure YOU are going to have a good time too." I can say very confidently that I absolutely did. It was my joy to capture their special day to the best of my abilities in that beautiful environment surrounded by loving family and friends. A shoutout to Rachel Rimmerman for snatching my camera away on several occasions to also ensure I have a chance to boggie and not be "working" the entire time. She took some great photos on the dance floor, too. Thanks Rachie!

Much love to you both, Jennifer & Tom! <3