What is my idea of happiness? Each moment I am fortunate to take breath, and having the ability / opportunity to work on fulfillment of all of my imaginations and make them reality.
What are the best things that I love about my work? Being my own boss has so many positive aspects. I get to set the schedule, and work on what inspires me at the moment. Everything that I do, I want to do. I do it out of love. It’s my Ikigai, or ‘scopo nella vita’ (my purpose in life).
Building my businesses and life from the ground up… even the frustrating parts and physically exhausting moments of it make me feel alive and accomplished. Being able to express myself through my actions, images, creativity, and my words… the release is necessary to feel inner fulfillment.
What is my greatest fear? Losing my eyesight, that would alter my ability to do what I am most passionate about: ‘Photographing wildlife and travel destinations’ around the globe.
What are my most marked characteristics? My independent nature, I rarely ask for help on anything. Being reliable and always on time. My word means everything to me. If I say it, you can bet it will be done!
What are the traits that I most appreciate in myself? My confidence and self motivation: I hardly ever run out of energy, and I am a ‘do it yourself’ type of person. I imagine it; then I make it happen. I thrive on being able to do everything I attempt in business, and in life.
The words I CAN’T have never been a part of my personal vocabulary.
New porch, I CAN build it. New website, I CAN create it. Flat tire, I CAN change it.
Nothing stops me. When I set my mind on something, I achieve it. I have never experienced true failure where I just give up. Obviously there is no success without plenty of failures. I just keep doing it until I get it right. I have always believed in my abilities to overcome any obstacle, and I have.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? The last few years, my lack of patience with others is definitely something I need to improve on. I get easily annoyed watching the lackadaisical efforts of people in all aspects of life. Those who do things ‘half-assed’ and never finish what they start really irritate me. So internally this bothers me. Perhaps this is why I usually choose to do things myself, and work alone in isolation. At least I know the project, or effort will be done properly, with extreme care, and to the highest of standards possible. I see myself a perfectionist: Sometimes it’s a blessing, other times it seems a curse.
If I could, what would I change about myself? Maybe my sense of humor, I’m the only one who usually laughs at my jokes, but then… I’m usually the only person in the room. See how bad that was, you’re not laughing are you? Bad jokes aside, I would learn how: not to be such a loner. I always preferred the company of animals, over humans, even as a child. As an introvert, I’ve never been a very social person and I wasn’t very popular in my youth. Perhaps it was my joke telling?
On what occasion would I lie? I don’t feel sugar coating, or little lies are beneficial to anybody. I would rather have a harsh truth (reality), than to have someone lie to me to spare my feelings. Tell me like it is… straightforward and honestly. I can’t grow from lies, nor can I heal my wounds. I need truth! And you’ll get the same from me.
When and where was I the happiest in my work? Right now… today. Watching my dedication and efforts materialize into what I imagined is the best feeling!
What is my greatest extravagances? Travel and camera equipment
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, or partner in crime? I feel the nameless supporters who have purchased my images, and image products over the years ARE my greatest fans. I am truly grateful for each and every one of them.
Where would I most like to live? I’m already living here. I live on top of a mountain, with a spectacular view in my own perennial garden paradise in the Great Smoky Mountains. When I first visited North Carolina, I felt like I was coming home, though I had never been before. That is why I eventually moved here.
Of all the countries I have traveled, Italy had the same magical pull for me… I would love to have a home there too! Or at least visit more often so I can research my heritage. It’s one of my favorite countries!
What is my most treasured possession? My home is where my heart is. The knowledge that I will always have a roof over my head, that no one can take from me…. It’s like a security blanket, it is very comforting. I can travel the world and no matter how long I’m away, I’ll always have a home base with all its familiarities and comforts. I understand the saying ‘There is no place like home’… for me this rings true.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? My home: The peace and serenity I have created here…. silence from the outside world, listening to the birds & frogs, and the sounds from the nearby creek while surrounded by flowers and nature. It’s perfect place to work and gaze out of my office window.
What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? Before or after COVID? It’s been a while since I ventured out for dining.
What books influenced my life and how? The ‘book of life’ has been my biggest influencer. I learned most everything of importance from ‘hands on experience’ and real life, not from books. Honestly… I have never been a big reader with exception to plenty of romance novels in my early 20’s. I have hundreds of books, though most of them are reference as I do a lot of documentation on travel, species, and creatures. The last book I read from beginning to end was National Geographic – Complete Birds of North America. It’s 700 pages – Does that make me nerdy?
The last book I purchased was political – Proof of Corruption by Seth Abramson. It just arrived, so I have yet to start it. But I’m sure it will be a great eye opener and have detailed references to our current situation in America.
What is my greatest achievement in work – Surprisingly to myself, when I built my own website to the ‘exact’ of what I envisioned after professionals told me I couldn’t get all the features I wanted on my budget. Sorry… unacceptable answer! The finished product is perfect and was ‘extremely’ under budget! Never tell me it can’t be done, I’ll prove you wrong!
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Those that get paid assignments to do what they love (EX: National Geographic explorers). In fairness to myself, I haven’t tried to yet. Perhaps I will in the future when I’m ready to make that leap. But for now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not complaining… life is pretty amazing as it is.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? I love music and my tastes are very diverse, but I like the ‘sounds of nature’ the best. So this would be my first choice. But if I had to choose musicians: anything by Keith Urban or Christina Aguilera.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction (movie)? As I don’t have a heroine from books, I chose a movie instead. The character Laura Croft from ‘Tomb Raider’… she’s beautiful, smart, a bad ass, wants to save the world, and rich. What’s not to admire!
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My mom is a true heroine in my eyes – I know… everyone says that. As a single mother, she was a real role model and a figure of strength for me. She taught and showed me how to be a strong and independent woman. I think I inherited her determination, drive, and strong will too. She showed me women can do anything a man can, and not to let anything defeat you. Her lessons…. They have been the bedrock of my entire life. I wouldn’t be the ‘me’ I am today without those valuable traits and the selfless sacrifices she made for us. I’m truly grateful to her.
All those who tirelessly work to make a difference for people and animals that have no voice, and for the planet we all share. Animals shelters, animal rights activists, environmentalists… this list is long, these people are TRUE HEROES!
In general: ordinary people who listen and follow their hearts and create a better world around them without motive, or payment. Those that do what is right, even when no one is watching.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Why just once? Any great movie should be watched a multiple of times. I don’t have a favorite, but I have a few I love to watch repeatedly. Antwone Fisher, The Blind Side, Notebook, Dances with Wolves, Gladiator, Celtic Pride, Airheads, ED TV are just some that I always enjoy no matter how many times I’ve seen them. A great movie touches on your emotions, the same way art does. If they can tug on your heart strings, bring tears to your eyes, or bring you uncontrollable laughter over and over again… that’s a great movie worthy of watching.
What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ mean to me? I have control over my own destiny. We each have the ability to write our own novels, each chapter from beginning to the end. If you aren’t happy with the way it’s developing, just turn the page and rewrite it. I create how my story will end.
What role art plays in my life and work? It’s an obsessed role… it’s all I want to do each day when I’m awake. I feel a deep desire to express myself, whether in words or in images.
What project, in 2020-21, am I looking forward to work on? Since Covid-19 has altered traveling, I plan on sticking to the states for the next few adventures. While I haven’t figured out the all the details yet, photographing the wild horses of North Carolina coast is likely my next project. I’ll start putting it together soon.
Which people in my profession who can make a real difference in my creative career would I love to meet in 2021? Not one specific person, but I love admiring other photographer’s works, and learning from them. When I see an amazing image, I can’t help but read up on everything I loved about the shot. The location, the camera settings, and the artist themselves. This has significantly helped me grow in my own efforts over the years. I may go to the same location and try to create a masterpiece myself that can live up to theirs. Their work inspires me!
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? In this business, most photographers and their efforts aren’t really respected, or paid fair wages. STOCK websites have destroyed that for us. They only want to give us ‘pennies’ for our hard earned images, which has led to a domino effect of negativity for the photography world. In many cases, they don’t even want your images signed, and they make you sign waivers so companies don’t have to acknowledge your work when they do license them. Hardly any want to pay you respectable royalties anymore because they can get them for practically nothing in today’s stock image market.
When considering entering contests for ‘exposure’ in popular magazines (internet as well), the companies require you to sign away your rights of image to them in order to enter. While you still retain ownership of image, they can use your image in any way they want, without compensation to you. Most entrants don’t read the small print, and likely don’t even know it.
Locally – Establishments want you to hang your work on their walls for free, instead of them buying your art at a fair price. Of all the respected ‘businesses for profit’ out there (from trades – retail -advertisement and everything in between)…. Photography is the one everybody wants, but doesn’t want to pay for.
It’s all quite frustrating to me.
Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2021? None for this year, perhaps in the not so distant future I will work towards a company who would like to license my images, hire me for an excursion, to sponsor me, or even to write a publication in a popular photography magazine. I’ve got enough on my plate to keep me busy right now.
What do the words ‘The Financial Freedom to Create’ mean to me? The ability to TRAVEL more, write more, & explore more!
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? That doing what you are inspired to do, will never end. There will never be retirement from passion! It’s impossible, only in death will I stop this journey I am on.
Where can you see my work? On my photography website and blog www.jenniferrobin.gallery
How can you contact me? https://jenniferrobin.gallery/contact/
A collaborated project with Peter de Kuster, founder of The Hero’s Journey, where thousands of men and women write about their individual journeys of business, passions, life, struggles and success. All kept together online, in one place. Here is my published link:
https://theheroinejourney2016.wordpress.com/ for the ladies
https://theherojourney2016.wordpress.com/ for the men
“You are the Storyteller of your Own Life. You can Create Your Own Legend – or Not!” – Peter de Kuster
“The way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our business and personal lives.
Your story is your life. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about ourselves, our creative business, our customers; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.
Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing.” – Peter de Kuster
Perhaps it is time you fulfilled your destiny and wrote your own story!
- The Call to Adventure – Hero receives calling to the unknown
- Refusal of the Call – Obligations or fear prevent hero from starting the journey
- Supernatural Aid – Magical helper appears or becomes known
- Crossing the First Threshold – Hero leaves its known world and ventures into the unknown
- Belly of the Whale – Final stage of the separation from the known world
- The Road of Trials – Hero must pass a series of test to begin the transformation
- Meeting with the Goddess/Love – Hero experiences unconditional love
- Temptation – Hero face temptation that will distract from ultimate quest
- Atonement with the Hero’s Father – Hero must confront the person that holds ultimate power in their life
- Peace and Fulfillment Before the Hero’s Return – Hero moves to a state of divine knowledge (usually through some form of death)
- The Ultimate Boon – Achievement of goal
- Refusal of the Return – Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, hero may be reluctant to return
- Magic Flight – Sometimes the hero has to escape with the boon
- Rescue from Without – Sometimes the hero needs a rescuer
- Return – Retain wisdom gained on quest and the hero integrates wisdom in human society by sharing wisdom with the world
- Master of Two Worlds – Hero achieves balance between the material and spiritual (inner and outer world)
- Freedom to Live – Freedom from fear of death, causing hero to live in the moment and no concern for the future or regrets of the past
The Call to Adventure – “It starts off where the hero/heroine begins in a situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.”
A lot of things will happen along the way of discovery for the person taking this journey. Whether a mythical story, or a real life version…. Each one of us has the ability to create the novel of our own lives, shape each chapter, and create our own ending.
Crossing the First Threshold – “This is the point where the hero actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are unknown.”
For each of us… our lives seemingly just happened without much thought. Each day comes anew, we wake up and go through the motions of ordinary life, taking stride with what life dishes out. And then another days comes, and another….. years pass us by and we wake up from the autonomous life we have been living and wonder where did the time go?
We realize there has to be more.
But how do we find it…. how do we change it?
The answer to those questions : ACTION
Stop talking about it and do it.
Taking the first step across the threshold
For me… I started the crossing the thresholds early in life. I wasn’t an average teenager. At 15, I was already supporting myself and living away from home. This is the year I met my Supernatural Aid, or mentor. I just called him Grady. He was one of my three roommates. I did a lot of growing and learning during these next few years. I overcame difficult obstacles: I got myself off of drugs when I moved away from my childhood neighborhood. I went to night school and received my GED with encouragement of Grady, and accomplished both by the age of 16. He was the guiding light I needed at this point of life. His support made the world of difference.
At 20 I picked up and moved north with my boyfriend and his family to start a new life away from the fast city life I had only known.
Though I had taken many first steps along the The Road of Trials in my young journey already, and although each one improved my life for the better, I was still finding my way and trying to figure it all out.
There is the one moment that changed it all.
I recall when this happened for me. I was 23 and living in Florida. I was just a regular girl struggling through life, happy, but I had no direction or purpose. Working two jobs for lousy wages, barely making enough to live off, trying to take college courses but struggling to keep up with my hectic schedule.
While I may not have had the financial means, or a set plan…. What I did have going for me was determination and motivation. These have always been my strengths. I kept pushing forward, crawling towards my future. No matter how hard I tried, I was still drowning in the sea of ordinary.
I have always been driven, even if I didn’t have focus. I didn’t spend much time idle, I liked to keep active and busy. I had a cheap Canon camera, and a few crafty hobbies that kept me occupied in the very little spare time I could find. Both cost $$ (developing, and supplies) which I had none to spare. Looking back, though this is where my current career originated, I can’t say they played much of a role at this point. But I certainly enjoyed them and did them as often as I could.
Then one day I received a call from my Supernatural Aid. He asked if I’d like to join him on his vacation to North Carolina. I had never taken an adventure like this, outside of family trips as a child. I had a little in my savings intended for another use, but something was tugging at me…. so I decided this was how I would spend my hard earned savings. It wasn’t much…. but would have to do.
My employer always gave me one week paid vacation, but I had always worked my vacation week for the extra paycheck for as many years as I could remember. So I never had actually taken one before.
This was to be the first photographic journey I ever took. It would set off a passion for adventure and photography that I didn’t have before, and a lifelong quest to constantly quench my thirst to explore the beauty within this amazing planet. This was where it all started!
This trip turned out to be the MAJOR turning point in my life. It was the most amazing week. The experience was more than I had anticipated. When I returned home… I felt an incredible longing for a place I had only known briefly. Everything about the trip gave me a sense of dejavu. This place felt more like home than anywhere I had ever lived. I knew I had to get back there. I had a goal, I had a plan… and now I had a destination!
The next few years were difficult internally. The struggles of life were the same, though now I seeped into an depression as I could no longer find the happiness or joy in this ordinary life. Where I resided was still great, the people I still loved… my heart was no longer there. I knew what I had to do. I had to get back to that place that left a longing within me. That place that ignited the spark in my soul.
It took a few years to save up again… then finally my efforts reached their goal of $1000. I figured that would be enough for travel expenses, and a place to rent (first, last, and security). I’d have to find a job fast. But that wasn’t a worry at all. I had determination, skills and a car. It wasn’t much, but I would make it work.
It was time to put the plan in action before some un-forseen life event happened and the money disappeared. Didn’t need to wait for a curveball to screw it all up!
At 25 yrs old, I gave my two week notice at my jobs, packed up my camper truck with a: makeshift bed, a cooler, and some clothes, just the necessities for now. Once I got settled, I would come back for the rest
This was a bittersweet moment. I knew I would miss the family I had spent the last five years with, but I was also excited about the unknown. This was the first time I had true freedom. It felt invigorating!!!
I hugged my boyfriend and his family and headed off on an adventure of a lifetime. I was creating my own destiny!
That was the moment that turned ‘ordinary’ into ‘extraordinary’
While this is just a snippet of my life’s journey, until I started putting it on paper… I couldn’t quite see that I have already been on the Heroine’s Journey this whole time. My entire life, I have been writing the chapters of my novel, maybe not with words, but with my actions. I created my future, which now is in the past. Everyday, I write more of the story as it is constantly evolving. I can either create greatness, or I can create a mediocre life.
When you write out the story of your life, it becomes more clear how each step directly impacted the outcome, and it helps you to understand the areas you need to focus on.
As long as you take breath, your novel is still being written. You are the character of your story, and you can write it anyway you wish.
If you don’t like the way it is turning out, rewrite it! Change it! Fix it!
You have the power to do that. You just need to believe in yourself and take action. Action is the most important thing you can do.
Words are just words, but your actions define youJennifer Robin
With each step we take across the miles and years, the outcome will change. The people we bring into our circle will have a direct impact on our experiences. Who do you allow into your world, into your space? Do they bring you positivity or negativity? Do they help you to grow, or do they keep you stagnated? This is your story, you are writing it with each contribution you bring, with each contribution they bring.
The actions you make, or don’t make….. this life is entirely in your hands. Remember that!
How it ends will be a direct effort from you. You are the writer of your story… choose your words and efforts carefully.
Take a step forward, reach out of your comfort zone and start the adventure of your life.
Don’t fear the change… only YOU can create the life you want, the life you dream of, the life you can be proud of.