A little over two years ago, I suffered a toxic reaction to an antibiotic that changed my life possibly forever. Three little pills nearly killed me. Thankfully, they didn't, but I am a different person than I was before. The reaction left me with a long term condition called Quinolone Toxicity Syndrome. While there are many parts of this syndrome that can affect people, I was left with long term Central and Peripheral Nervous System damage in the form of constant muscle tremors, muscle weakness and twitching, memory loss, chronic insomnia, well, you get the picture. I was and often still am perpetually overstimulated from a nervous system standpoint.
Needless to say, I fell into a deep depression.
I retreated from the world and my family. Then one day, I had a talk with myself. I told myself I realized that things weren't so great with my body, but I wasn't dead, dying of an incurable disease, or have some genetic abnormality that I had passed to my children. "Self", I said, "it's time to DO something for yourself. Snap out of it! Stop saying NO and start saying YES!"
I had always been a hobbyist photographer. I decided that my goal was to produce images that a stock agency would accept. Pretty tough goal when you are trembling all the time! Tripods became my friend, but I was determined to shoot without the aid of one. I joined Dreamstime, and slowly started getting images accepted. But my early images aren't great-- I knew nothing about stock photography or technical aspects of my camera.
I have taught myself everything I know since that date.
I started getting better. My portfolio is small but growing. I always tell people not to get discouraged. After all, who would know better than I? :) Then, people started picking me as one of their favorite photographers. I was shocked! And touched, more than any of you who clicked that little button could ever possibly know.
Fast forward.... Dreamstime hosted a contest on Facebook, with 100 credits to the winner. I won that contest. And today, after rewarding myself (I couldn't help it!!), I gave back to the DT community. One special person, because of a selfless act, was rewarded more than others. But for the people who put me on their favorite photographers' list, I purchased an image from nearly every single one of you.
It might have been a Level 0 image, and I pushed it into Level 1 for you. It might have been almost at level 2 and I made the fifth purchase for you. It might have just been an image in your portfolio that I liked.
It's my way of giving back to this community that has given so much to me-- inspiration, a purpose in life, physical therapy, knowledge, and friendship. Thank you.
I am so lucky.
If I could tell you one thing, it would be to NEVER give up! I'm much better these days, but still have some issues. If I haven't given up, neither should you!