2013 photogenX Track Talk

On Tuesday, Cambria and I had the privilege of speaking to the 2013 photogenX Track.

Having "been there and done that" we had a few words and thoughts we wanted to share in hopes they finish their last eight or so months well.

If you just started following my journey, in 2009 I joined YWAM and did a two year round the world photo track with 10 other girls. We travelled to 36 countries learning, teaching, photographing and listening to stories of people we met along the way. It was hard, exciting, and life transforming. It was not at all romantic as it may sound because we lived with the same 10 girls day in and day out. We fought, we hurt each other, we forgave and in the end we became sisters. The start of this blog is the beginning of the track journey. If you have the time and interest, I encourage you to go back and sift through... I share loads of pictures, stories of the people I met and the life altering lessons I learned along the way.

It was a bit surreal to sit and think about what I wanted to communicate to this 2013 track, two years after I finished mine. They are 10 months in to their journey, with about 8 months left. There are 8 of them: 3 men, 5 women.

While I didn't fully communicate everything as well as I wrote it, this is what fell onto the pages of my journal and out of my mouth Tuesday:

I want to bring PERSPECTIVE. I know how caught up in the moment you can get. You are living 24/7 with these people. And all the issues that surround community can be daunting. There are hurts and feelings that are immediate and very real and raw. I am in no way negating those. I've been there and totally done that. But, I want to encourage you to gain perspective. To step out of your immediate situation. Take yourself out of the here and now and get a birds eye view. Look at what you are doing from someone else's perspective. Even look at it from your perspective five years from now. This track, these countries, your experience.

IT'S ALL ONCE IN A LIFETIME. How many countries have y'all been to? How many amazing people have you met along the way? The stories, both great and difficult. Don't take this for granted. It's easy to, in the midst of the moment. But really I get to tell Carsen I traveled to 17 countries with 10 friends meeting the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich and everyone in between. I get to tell my grandchildren [I almost cried when I said that!] I taught photography to kids in a township while they taught me about their community and home. I get to tell my grandkids that I published an amazing book that actually won an award!

This won't happen again. Yes, you might travel a bit more. You may stay in YWAM. But you will never get to travel with 8 people on a round the world ticket learning and experiencing the world like you are now.

REMEMBER IT ALL! I promise, you will forget. Sure, you will remember bits and pieces. But what seems so vivid now, will fade with time. Life happens. You'll go home. To college. To work. To YWAM. You'll start dating. Get married. Have babies. And the friends you met in Romania... They will begin to fade. Do what you can to document your stories. If you are a writer, journal. A storyteller, record your voice. A painter, paint their pictures. A photographer, photograph as much as you can. A videographer, make a documentary. Just don't forget.

And last, FINISH AND LEAVE WITH NO REGRETS. I will be honest, I had a crappy attitude most of the time. People annoyed me. Hurt me. The track wasn't being led the way I saw fit. Some of the teachers were dumb. The food horrible. The living situation not ideal. Whatever it was, I look back and think, "gosh, I could have done this so different and saved myself heartache. I could have been nicer. Treated them better. Loved more. Not taken myself and others so serious. Given grace.

Remember, this is a once in a life opportunity. I made the best of friends. With 10 girls. I got to see so much of this amazing world. And met some beautiful people along the way. But I'd do so much different to have made the actual ride greater.

I'll leave you with this, you can leave the track a bitter person or a better person. Gain perspective, remember this opportunity for what it is and have no regrets looking back. Do this and you'll leave a better person.
Cambria shared a bit of her journey in the track and then spoke on GRATITUDE. Finding things in the midst of the hard to be grateful for


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