(Re-Post) Inspiration for me and maybe for you too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Editing tonight I glanced at two pictures that inspire me every single day of my life. I went back to read this post from last summer and decided to re-post. So many people in our lives have achieved so much with so little. So what do we really have to complain about?

When I think about if my house was ever burning down, these two pictures would be amongst the first items I would be sure to grab.


Originally posted (May 2007)

Before I graduated from college, I gained an intense desire to trace my heritage and locate old photographs of my relatives. Finding several damaged pictures, I learned to use computer software to digitally reconstruct the images. This is when I was first introduced to complex digital editing. To date I have collected over 100 pictures and gained information on six generations of my family. Two members of my family, in particular, have given me great inspiration in my business.

The first is my grandfather, George (1906 - 1998). My grandfather was a very strong and determined man. Once he told me that he could build a house all by himself with his bare hands! Even though he was about 80, I actually believed him! One thing that I remember about my grandfather was that he always had a song in his head every time I was around him. I can still hear him singing today, "In the morning, when I rise, in the morning, when I rise...." Today when I think about this song, I think about how blessed I am to wake up every morning with a house, clothing, food, a business, friends, family, a car...but its not the material things that are really what I'm blessed to have. I am more blessed to have good health, a sound mind, salvation, communication with God, talent, a discerning spirit...all things that cannot really be measured. I feel that as an entrepreneur I must always recognize how quickly material things can fade away. Customers may stop calling, my eyes may become weak, my camera may fail to capture light...however, staying grounded in spirituality is the key to being a successful person.

The second inspirational family member to me was my great grandfather, Vandybilt (1907 - 1996). Buster used to pick me up from pre-school (yes I remember) and drive me around Pensacola on the way home. Well, at least I thought we were driving around Pensacola. As I got older, I realized he was only driving me around the same block over and over again. He used to save the pint carton of milk from his senior citizens meeting and give it to me before we got home. He was a remarkable young man. Looking at his photograph you can probably tell that he was of mixed ancestry. This gave him advantages and disadvantages. While raising his family in Pensacola, he was able to make allies in the community. Sometimes based on his character and other times because of his appearance. Still, his family faced harsh times. They had crosses burned in their yard, some went to jail for refusing to leave restaurants, and others faced ridicule once the public school system was integrated. Despite the challenges, my grandfather managed to run a cleaners, invest in real estate, serve as a deacon, and pay for his children to go to college. This was all an amazing feat during a time when access to equal opportunity was unheard of. The entrepreneurial spirit and the spirit of perseverance has passed through my family for quite some time. I feel that I am honoring Buster's legacy by accomplishing some of his same triumphs...all before the age of 30. Many times I think about what he would be doing if he was a young man living today with all of the opportunities I have been afforded. I do not take my blessings lightly and I know that Buster is smiling knowing that the wisdom he gave his great grandson is being put to use.

A book wriiten on my family: A Way Out of no Way - Claiming Family and Freedom in the New South, by Dianne Swann-Wright

If you are interested in tracing your family's history, why not visit www.ancestry.com


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

You're starting to make me think you are superman!!! You can add journalist to your many talents!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow...no wonder you are so multi-talented, it's in your blood. You are very gifted--you can tell a story through your eyes and with your words. Thank you for sharing your blessings. Mignon

Anonymous said...


I just ordered your family's book. I'm also interested in geneology and am a history buff as well. Also, I want to encourage you in your business. I got the email on the "fabulous" engagement at the Ritz and started looking at your other work. I live in MD, but if I ever get married, and have enough duckets (cash), I will consider you as my photographer!

Naijadiva said...


Your G'father and GG'father crossed their hands and legs the same way!!! Genes are powerful

Eliana@BYSE said...

What amazing photos of your ancestry.

nicolelennox said...

Hi Ross! I just wanted to leave you a note to say what an inspiration YOU have been to me. I've always been a picture taker and I'm still playing around with the idea of photography as a career but I'm having the MOST fun along the way. (I finally purchased my first SLR and can't stop shooting!!)

Thank you for sharing with us not only your love for photography but your faith in the Most High. I know God will continue to bless you and your family because of your witness. You are truly continuing your forefather's legacies of inspirational men!