"My dad is a retired fire fighter from San Antonio, TX. I've often thought about the moment of terror when all of one's dearest valuables are about to be lost in a fire. No hesitation, the one item I would risk everything for would be the old guitar my grandpa bought in the 60's for my dad, who then passed it down to me. This guitar changed the path of my life. It has been by my side my whole life, with only three strings, but as a young boy, I made due. It's my literal family tree, and I'm currently writing a song about this very subject. No doubt the actions taken every moment of every day impact your fellow man and woman in a way we could never understand." Matt, 31
"I discovered my passion in photography and worked real hard to own a camera. I had my first camera at 21 years old. I was a late bloomer, I guess. They say do something you love and make it a career."
"We met online about 13 years ago. We are both musicians. Mark is a wonderful music teacher and he works at a private high school. Mark has epilepsy and I look out for him. We are a team."
Happy Valentine's Day to you both! 💓💓💓
"Leaving my mother's house was my biggest challenge in life. Leaving the comfort of my family's home for independence was very difficult, but that feeling is disappearing every day. Today I share a house with a friend. I know that for some people and cultures, this may not be such a big deal, but every step of life is measured by different legs." -Rafael, 22
"I've been walking tall since '94, my birth year. I am a warrior and a survivor, who never runs from anything. I face it head on like a tsunami and keep on flowing through, like the current in an ocean. My greatest accomplishment is graduating from high school and never succeeding in killing myself. I fought through my pain of being abused and molested. I ground down my knuckles on bricks until they were raw. I thought life would be easier after graduation so I fought every day to keep living life . I fought it all to graduate, and I did with A's and B's. A friend and father figure gave me a tan fedora for my birthday one year. He never stopped loving me, never turned his back on me. He is fighting cancer now, yet he smiles and laughs, and shows no sadness. He's my inspiration. I've been to counseling for the molestation and abuse, I've been put in the psychward, have been imprisoned, and I am an ex-gang member. My life has been through tragedy, destruction, heartbreak, sadness, and absolute misery. Yet, I still smile. I'm walking strong now, I've grown strong as steel. I eat my pain, ingest it, and use it as fuel to fire up my courage and my strength to mold me into the man I want my future wife and children to be proud of. "
"I cherish you everyday of our lives but today I do just a little bit more. Nine years ago today, your life was changed forever. You've never let being in a chair define you, and you are more beautiful to me now than ever before. Some people reflect light, some deflect it; you, by some miracle, seem to collect it and I am so lucky that you've chosen to share your light with me. I admire you. I honor you. I love you. Here's to many more years celebrating your life." -Jonathon
"Ever since I was old enough to know what being a mom entailed, I wanted to have children myself. I am the oldest of 6 kids and whenever my mom would bring home a new brother or sister, I would play little mama and rock and sing them to sleep. I loved being a big sister and I loved babies. I wanted to have my first child in my 20's, but it just didn't work out that way. All of my friends were having babies at 26 and 27, and there I was, childless and convinced I would never be a mom. Then I met my fiancé and we just clicked. A couple of months after we started our relationship, I found out that I was pregnant. We were ecstatic.
At 20 weeks, I found out I had gestational diabetes. I was told all of the possible risks, including stillbirth. So, I followed my diet to a T. The doctors also told me there was a risk that the baby would be born with high blood sugar and be kept in the nicu.
Well on November 6th, 2016 my son Evan was born. His blood sugar levels were perfect. His pediatrician always tells me how advanced he is for his age. Even though I didn't have him in my 20's, he was worth the wait." -Ashley, 33
"I have only one photo of my grandmother. She was an exotic dancer in Miami Beach. It’s an old photo of her in a swimsuit, lounging in the sand. She was a firecracker. She never went out without her bright red lipstick and nails to match. She was like my mother in many ways. Even though I was her granddaughter, she always called me her #1 ." -Vanessa, 39
"My greatest accomplishment is being a mother, a chef, a lover, and a friend. It took me many years to get on track. I lost everything- my family, my home- I was kicked out on the streets because my grandmother didn't approve, so I was raised without either of my parents. Despite this, I learned how to stand on my own. I went through culinary school while raising my child alone, and looking back to where I was to where I am now, I fought suicide, I'm staying positive, and moving forward with my life." -Kieanna, 28
"My passion is traveling and seeing the world. I'm from Ukraine and have been to 19 countries and 8 USA states. Last Spring, I planned an 18 day-long Euro-trip with my girlfriend. Planning took about 5 months: getting time off from work, choosing cities to visit, what to see and do, figuring out transportation, obtaining visas, where to stay, and then creating daily plans.
The trip itself went very smooth, by luck or due to the detailed plan. Eighteen days, 4 countries, 7 cities, 4 flights, 2 trains, 2 buses, 70 posts on Instagram, 208km or 129 miles of walking, all done for about $5000.
This trip will stay forever in my heart as The First Big Travel that I did completely myself. I had to overcome both laziness and fear of failure. There is also a stereotype that traveling on your own is more expensive. Well, it can be if you choose the same destinations and accommodations that are proposed by touristic agencies, but usually there simply is no alternative.
P.S. The Next Big Thing is is already WIP. Now I want to go around the world with my backpack only. Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Iceland and Norway, I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!" -Volodymyr, 25
"Acting was one of my greatest accomplishments. Not having an agent, nor any real training, going to audition through the backstage, and all the none believers- Until they saw my face in the magazine. That was a great time in my life." -Delroy, 42.
"I was so fat and my dream was to be a personal trainer, so I studied how to become one for 5 years, after I graduated from Faculty of Commerce, English Section. I learned how to change my body and I transformed it from being so fat and unhealthy to fit and healthy. Now, I have my own personal training company, indoor or outdoor."
"I was able to turn my hobby into a business after overcoming the fear of failure. I tried and failed so many ventures on my own and with friends. In the beginning the failure made me afraid to try again, but you survive, and learn that even if you fail again, you will survive, so trying becomes easier and I kept trying until something finally gave way." -Allan, 31
"My greatest accomplishment was when I did a choreographed dance with my dance teacher to Bollywood music in front of the entire group home. I knew dancing was a talent I had. A hurdle I had to overcome was blocking out others' drama and negativity." -Marquenta, 33