On Thursday I completed another month of the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge. For June, there was only one prompt. Grateful. Everyday, post a picture of something that makes you grateful. What I decided to do was every day take a picture with somebody that I am grateful to have in my life. 30 days in June. 30 different people. Only one person a day. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it wasn’t necessarily difficult. Most days, I just let people come into my life. I never made a trip way out of my way to take a picture. I think the farthest I went out of my way was to Madrid for the last day. Most people agreed to come to me. The farthest away a picture was taken was in Lansing, Iowa. But I didn’t go to Lansing, Iowa to take the picture. I went to Lansing to take a picture of their town sign. The second farthest away a picture taken was Spirit Lake, Iowa. But I didn’t go to Spirit Lake to take the picture. I went to Spirit Lake to go camping. The funny thing about those subjects is they were my sisters, who both live pretty darn close to me. The farthest away anybody lives from me that was included was Easton, Kansas. But that person definitely didn’t drive to Boone to have their picture taken with me.
The breakdown of people that I got pictured, if I were to categorize these people by how I first met them, it would break down like this:
+ Friend from Work: 11 – 7 current and 4 from the past.
+ Blood Relative – 7 people.
+ Church Friend – 5 people.
+ School Friend – 4 people.
+ In-Law – 1 person.
+ Teresa’s Friend – 1 person.
+ Olivia’s Friend – 1 person.
June 1 – Grateful – I’m grateful for my “Workspace Buddy” Joe. Not only because he is a great co-worker, but a great guy. He 100% believes the earth is flat, that there is no such thing as space, the moon landing was faked, and all celebrities are clones. While I don’t buy any of his views, I do have more respect for them than somebody that believes that supply side economics work. I’m grateful to know such an outside of the box thinker.
June 2 – Gratitude – This is Derrick. I’ve known him since we were slinging burgers together at the Evil Clown Empire back in college. I’m grateful to have him in my life, not just because we have season tickets together for Iowa State Cyclones football, but also because I wish I had 5% of his musical talent. He is a true guitar god in that he can both play a face melting solo and he can tell you everything about and repair any guitar. Just listening to him talk about guitars is a privilege.
June 3 – Gratitude – This is Willy. I’ve known him since I started getting invited to Saturday Morning Basketball in 9th Grade. Willy used to dominate the game before the “Big Dog” started to prowl the court. Willy is a world traveler as his Costa Rico hat and Portugal shirt attest and I do live vicariously through him. But the reason I’m most grateful to have him in my life is shortly after his teenage sister passed away suddenly, we started getting supper together on Friday nights. Other members of Friday Night Supper Club came and went, but Willy and I got supper together almost every Friday for a decade, right up until the pandemic. It was and maybe in the future, the perfect end to a work week.
June 4 – Gratitude – This is Brandon. I’m grateful for all my nieces and nephews, biological and otherwise. Brandon is my oldest nephew and grows the best beard of any of them. He also has great taste in pop culture as he shares my love for all things Godzilla.
June – Gratitude – I know there are well more than 30 people from my life that I am grateful for, but I also just don’t know if that I will see 30 different people on 30 different days. Especially when I mostly work from home. Some days I don’t really know that I will see anybody that I haven’t already photographed, but then something happens totally unexpected. My sister Teresa had tickets to see Hamilton with her best friend Sheri, but then she got sick and couldn’t go, so I ended up going to see Hamilton with Sheri. While I feel bad for Teresa, I am grateful to have Sheri in my life as she is one of those friends that is more like family to everybody in my family. And yes Hamilton was great! It is Hamilton.
June 6 – Grateful – This is my Aunt Linda. She is practically the last one left from my Dad’s generation. I’m grateful to have her in my life as she is a connection to my Grandma and Grandpa Bennett that I never got to know, my Uncle David that I never got to know and my Dad who I lost when I was nine. I don’t see her much because she lives in Easton, Kansas but she was in town today to take care of her Boone house.
June 7 – Grateful – This is Nader. I met him when in another life, I transferred to the Campustown outpost of the Evil Clown Empire. I’m grateful to have Nader in my life because despite having spent 5 years in an Iranian prison without a trial for saying Allah wouldn’t want you to kill people, in front of the wrong people, he still managed to find happiness in Henry Fonda winning an Oscar for On Golden Pond. I share his love of movies, but not how infatuation with the Oscars.
June 8 – Gratitude – This is Kim. At work I’m somewhere between the low man on the totem pole to not being on the totem pole at all. However, a big wig like Kim takes care of the little people by scheduling Popcorn Day around my schedule!
June 9 – Gratitude – This is Ron. I’ve worked with him for over 16 years now. Ron has a Purple Heart because he was injured in the terrorist attack on Khobar Towers. However, the truth about his heart is that is gigantic in his love for dogs. He has several dogs and he and his late wife were very active with the animal rescue league in his hometown and he is active in trying to get puppies away from puppy mills, often going to Missouri in this pursuit. I’m grateful for Ron, not just because he is a fountain of knowledge but because he loves dogs even more than me!
June 10 – Gratitude – This is Carla. She is my elder sister. The middle child of 3. I could just say I’m grateful cause she is my sister, but I realize not everybody has a sister where they are also friends. I am fortunate to have that with both my sisters. If you doubt that, I’m writing this while smashed into the bottom bunk of her camper reminding myself, that I’m not claustrophobic. I’m not claustrophobic. I’m not claustrophobic.
June 11 – Grateful – This is Sara. Today was her daughter Maven’s birthday party. Before this picture we tried to remember when we first met. Sadly, we can’t figure it out, but it was definitely no later than 1997, but probably before that. Sara has a hard fast rule that when taking a picture of her there has to be at least 3 takes. She is one of the best educated people I know. She has a Bachelor’s from Iowa State. A nursing degree from Mercy, and a Nurse Practitioner degree from Iowa with an emphasis in mental health. While I respect all that learning, but really I’m grateful for her because she is just incredibly fun to be around.
June 12 – Grateful – This is Pastor Dave. Today was his last day at our church. He is moving on to become a chaplain. I know that Dave must be a devastatingly handsome man because when I’m in my short beard mode I often get mistaken for him. I wish he was sticking around but I’m grateful to him for the job he did taking over in our church shortly before the pandemic began. It could not have been easy!
June 13 – Grateful – This is Jay. I’ve known Jay since 7th Grade. He is one of the most talented and creative artists that I know. I’m grateful to have some of the art he has created, including this hand staff he made when like 5 years ago I decided I wanted to make MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE themed birthday party invitations.
June 14 – Grateful – This is my brother-in-law Jason. He’s married to my sister Carla. He’s a great guy and very selfless. But probably why I’m most grateful to have him in my life is because he is handy. I am decidedly not “handy” and anytime I need help with a home project or a car repair, he volunteers his time and expertise.
June 15 – Grateful – This is Scottie D. I’ve known him since we worked together at the Boone Outpost of the Evil Clown Empire. We (with a few other rotating members) the competitive barbecue team Baby Got Rack. Not gonna lie, Scott is pretty much all the culinary talent and I mostly help pack and unpack and photodocument and follow orders. We’ve won more than a few competitions, but haven’t competed since before the pandemic. The hiatus might be coming to an end next month, but even if it doesn’t, I’m grateful to have Scott in my life because of all the delicious food he makes.
June 16 – Gratitude – This is my nephew Logan. Of all my nieces and nephews, he is the one that is continuing the family legacy of photography. He is even pursuing it professionally doing portrait and wedding photography. I’m grateful to have family that share my passion.
June 17 – Grateful – This is Kio. He is the person I know that is most dedicated to philanthropy and volunteering. But the reason I’m most grateful to have Kio in my life is that he was instrumental in hooking me up with running the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. A gig I coveted for years.
June 18 – Gratitude – This is my niece Alexis. It is rather embarrassing how long it has been since today that we’ve seen each other. She is the baby of the family. Well of her generation. She lived with me for a bit and that is the one and only time she heard me “swear”. It was apparently significant enough to her that she immediately took to social media to post about it.
June 19 – Grateful – This is Andrea. She was the Associate Pastor at my church about 10 years ago until she got moved to Fort Dodge to have her own church. Last year they moved her to West Des Moines. I went down to her worship service today and her sermon was so affirming and so everything I needed to hear. She is probably the Pastor that has had the most influence on my faith journey… in many ways… but including the simple act of asking me to help chaperone a Youth Group Mission Trip to Kansas City a long time ago.
June 20 – Grateful – This is Jesse. We’ve been best friends since meeting in Mrs. Ford’s 2nd Grade Class. Probably could write a ton on him, but enough to say he has been with me on most adventures and tragedies in my life since then. Which is a lot of years when you’re old and washed up like us.
June 21 – Grateful – This is Johnathan. He is the last of my biological nieces or nephews that will be featured this month. I have one more. My niece Elainie, but she is off in California currently with her Navy husband. So… Johnathan. He is the often quiet, keep to yourself nephew and I can relate to that. He is a phenomenal cook and is way better at cleaning than I am. He also lived with me briefly and his portion of the house was always in order. Like all my nieces and nephews, I need to effort to see him more, especially because his work schedule is so tough.
June 22 – Grateful – This is Micky. I’ve worked with him for over 16 years now. And while I’m grateful to him for all the help he gives me at work, I’m really grateful for our friendship outside of work. He is a great outdoorsman, but in ways that are opposite to how I enjoy it. Meaning, he likes to hunt and fish. Frankly, I do enjoy fishing a bit, I don’t think I could ever murderize other animals, I just don’t have it in me. Yet I have went turkey hunting with him. But my favorite part of our friendship is the great outdoorsman is terrified of snakes and I love sending him videos of snakes.
June 23 – Grateful – This is Michelle – I’ve worked with Michelle for a bit now. But like all my work friends it is our friendship outside of work that I’m truly grateful for.She is from Fort Dodge, so she does have the affliction of not knowing that Taco Tico is disgusting. But despite that she has went with me on more than one occasion to try a new tenderloin. She plays banker for the football betting pool I run and she currently has the 8th longest consecutive submission streak for THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE I run. She is proof not all Walmart Hawkeyes are bad people (she went to Drake).
June 24 – Grateful – This is Jen. I’ve known Jen since we worked together at the Boone Outpost of the Evil Clown Empire. Now she works for NASA. I don’t really care where my friends work, as long as they are happy, but I use it as an example of what a long, strange, often tragic and often joyful, trip we’ve been on. I’m wearing a banana hat because she hates bananas, but one thing we definitely agree on is that today was an incredibly sad day in this country’s history. But she will persist. I will be an ally.
June 25 – Grateful – This is my eldest sister Teresa. Like I mentioned with my other sister Carla, I am lucky to also be friends with my two siblings. She is super crafty and she’s probably made like half the shirts I wear, including the one in this picture with her Cricut. She also crochets and paints and many other things I’m probably forgetting.
June 26 – Grateful – This is Phil. He is another former Pastor from my church. He has also had a huge influence on my faith journey. He was a key part of my becoming way more active in my church and he did this by visiting my at a point in my life when I was deep in grief and not giving me any of the platitudes that you are given at that time. He was just present and it made such a huge difference. Over lunch he also shared a story when he knew I saw him as a person and not just a Pastor and I won’t share it, but I will remember it and it will help shape my interactions in the future.
June – 27 – Grateful – This is Anders. I’ve known him since meeting him in Jr. High band. He is a major driving force in the monthly movie night I host in my theater room. I’m grateful to have somebody in my life who has similarly eclectic taste in cinema as I do. In fact, the book I’m holding is a 700 page book he wrote on the making of our favorite bad movie, ROBOT MONSTER.
June 28 – This is Andy. I’d guess I’ve really known Andy about 10 years now. I don’t know he made a great first impression, but that is one of the cool parts of this friendship. We have chaperoned youth group mission trips to Martin, South Dakota, Saint Paul, Houston, Milwaukee, Rapid City, and I think Kansas City. Would be more, except for the pandemic. The shirt he is wearing is for a local charity he supports (there are too many to list) that gives support to families that have lost a baby. (Neonatal, perinatal, and infant loss) I’d explain why this is necessary, but it makes me sad. Andy’s big heart is why I’m grateful he is in my life.
June 29 – Grateful – This is Elizabeth. This might be a hard one to write because I was only partially convinced that she would agree to do this and I wasn’t expecting her to come to me this morning with her hair all straightened and say, “I don’t like having my picture taken, but I do like you. So let’s take this picture.” Which was an absolute highlight of my day. And she will read that and give me grief about it. Then she said, “You’ll probably write something snarky about how I don’t like having my picture taken”. Which I probably would have and pointed out about how as a photographer it really gnaws at you, the pictures you don’t get to take. I might have even written something about the misogynist in me vs. the feminist in me, but none of that will cover why she is important to me. So I will get to that. She is probably the person that most calls me on my BS, which somebody like me needs. She at least attempts to tell me when she thinks I’m wrong as she is the unnamed other opinion on my TOWN SIGN PROJECT posts on my regular Instagram account. While we have differing opinions on the important things (pizza and she doesn’t LOVE peanut butter and chocolate together, right?)… I’ve somehow come to value her opinion. That probably even surprises her.
June 30 – Grateful – This is Mike. Made it. 30 days. 30 different people. That is a lot of grateful and a lot of grateful still left on the table. But Mike… I’ve known him since I started working at the Computer Mine 16 plus years ago. He is the number one influence on my photography website being as advanced technologically as it is. And because we both have interests in photography (both interests inherited from fathers we both lost way too early) it was originally mostly his idea to create THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE on my website. A challenge that has very slowly grown from a couple people a week to consistently over 30 submissions a week. And his technological savvy is just a small part of why I conclude the grateful month with Mike.
I definitely didn’t write nearly enough about some people. Sometimes it was a time crunch. Sometimes, it just seemed obvious and obvious is sometimes hard to put into words.
Obviously there are more than 30 people in my life that I am grateful to have in my life. I won’t even give you examples of people that I am thankful for, because I’m sure I would leave people out. Then they would have been left out of the 30 days and then out of the list of but I’m also grateful for you list and then would be like a double slap. Just know that if you think I’m grateful to have you in my life, I probably am and you weren’t included in this set of 30 because you live too far away or I don’t see you on a regular basis. Or at least didn’t see you in June.
Some good prompts in there. It will fill weird getting back to a different prompt everyday, but I’m sure I can handle it.