Today I had a brilliant realization: that I could work while volunteering at the SFSPCA. I'm so glad because I need/ed to get some work done and I also needed some major puppy love.
I have a lot of stuff to catch up on; most of my free time in the last two weeks was dedicated to developing this website. It's been an exciting and exhausting period for me. Amidst the busy-ness of launching my site and wrapping up classes at City College for this semester, I've experienced a spectrum of emotions: gratitude for the support of friends and family in my photographic adventure, relief and delight in announcing my website, elation with great client sessions, general doubts that I entertain from time to time about my path, and more personally, sadness from a recent break up. The grief, actually, caught me off guard. I thought I had fully mourned the relationship, but apparently not. A new wave of heartbreak hit me yesterday and I woke up shell shocked today.
Making time to rejuvenate myself is important--especially as a creative professional--and can feel like a competing priority with the many details of life and starting a business. I typically meditate on a daily basis and swim a couple times a week. Swimming, cooking, walking, and photography are my alternative forms of meditation and sources of renewal. Sometimes these are not enough but they can help get me closer to what I need. During my swim this morning, my mind collapsed the compartments I had constructed around "working" and "volunteering." I knew that heading to the SFSPCA with my laptop in tow was the perfect solution to getting some photo editing done, helping a pup, and nurturing myself.
Volunteering at the SFSPCA has been infinitely rewarding and a source of great pleasure, but as I've been completing my documentary class project there, I've had little time to actually volunteer. I've trained to work with the "target" dogs--those that have behaviors that make them the hardest to adopt out. Usually these are extremely, shy and shut down dogs, or rude/jumpy/mouthy (RJM) dogs. Working/volunteering with these dogs involves various and customized activities. With some shy dogs I can simply sit in their kennel and get them used to having a person around who is safe and friendly. That's what I did today.
Nina is a Jindo, a Korean breed, and one of 57 dogs rescued from a meat farm in South Korea by the SFSPCA and the Humane Society International. She is shy and doesn't like to be touched. I sat in her kennel for about an hour and a half. I had bits of turkey meat ball to give her and create positive associations with being around and interacting with people. While she ate out of my hand and allowed me to scratch under her mouth, she shied away from any other touch. I also played some jazz and acoustic music to acclimate her to different types of sound. Nina was very curious about my laptop and phone, and her reaction to the music and my whistling was precious. I tried to capture her expression but ended up with the photo above. Although she wasn't ready for any petting, she rewarded me with several *almost* kisses, which is exactly what I needed. I got my work done, felt immensely better, made a new friend, and helped Nina get a little closer to being her "best adoptable-self."
So this blog is a bit personal. I debated posting it because I was afraid it might seem unprofessional as a photographer. It felt vulnerable to share this story but I also felt compelled to; my personal experiences influence who and how I am as a photographer. Leaving paid employment a year ago to pursue my passion was/is a risky proposition and an affair of my heart. My joys and sorrows will be part of my journey and work as a photographer. I cannot separate the two and I don't want to. Not all my posts may be so personal, but don't be surprised if they are. Thank you for reading!