Patience Salgado: partner, mother, photographer and kindness warrior. Patience is a kind of global kindness ambassador putting her beliefs about what even a small act of kindness can do to change the world into daily practice. To read more about Patience, what she does and who she is, bringforth invites you to read on and join the global kindness movement.
My favourite question: what drives you? So, if you were to put into words the force that pushes you to do what you do and experience what you experience—how would you describe it?
I can remember as a little girl sort of “feeling” the feelings in any given room. I’m not sure if that just makes me sensitive or if there is something more there but because of it, I am so very drawn to kindness. I know it is the one thing that melts people, connects us, and can be carried on and on. I am drawn to the power of it, and its potential for great and deep change.
I read in “O” that your parents were very socially conscious and exposed you to many different experiences from a very young age. Now, as an adult being able to observe your childhood, how can you see your early life shaped not only who you are but what you do?
My parents didn’t really talk very much about kindness or caring for others, they just did it, over and over again. It was like breathing in my childhood, I didn’t even realize it was that special then. I just knew it was a deep part of my parents as people and our identity as a unit. There were lots of other parts that were broken, but my parents loved us and others so well. I am so very grateful for this huge gift in my life and childhood.
What was your process of coming to know what it is that you were to do and then translate what you love into what you do?
Oh, that is a long, sorted story. I think it is actually still evolving. Mostly though, it has been a process of finally seeing myself, claiming all of parts of me (the beautiful and hard) and standing in the call before me which was kindness. Once I let my heart and intuition lead me, everything else sort of fell into place. For me, it often required me to be vulnerable, which led to this beautiful strength. There is a freedom in just holding that thing right in front of you, no matter what, whether it fails or is a huge success, whether it is just yours or for the whole world, whether anyone even understands it. When I do, I feel whole.
So many of us tend to worry about the practicality of our passions, you know, the ‘how will I pay the bills aspect’. Do you ever feel afraid of that (or of other things) and, if you do, how do you work through it and stay on your path.
Oh dear, I haven’t been really paying the bills for so long. It does feel overwhelming at times and I have had to do lots of side jobs (some I really did not love) to make it work. I do think there is this weird universe coverage when you stand in your art/passion/love but you often have to leap first. There have been so many times when Kindness has found me when I needed it most. At a certain point, you just have to follow your passion whether it makes sense or not, you know you just have to because it is so intertwined with who you are.
Tell us more about your photography and what it is you hope to embody or inspire with your work?
I fell into photography as it was part of a writing gig I had with PBSparents.org, and what a fall it was. I instantly loved that there were beautiful moments happening all around and I could see and capture them in a new way through my photography. I had a deep love for birth and how it shapes all involved so I knew pretty early on that I wanted to capture birth.
I want people to see their love, their strength, their joy, how they moved through something hard and found themselves and love in my pictures. In so many ways, I just want my work to be a mirror of their beauty and sometimes the beauty of struggle.
I feel really honored when folks allow me to photograph them, it is a gift to let someone see you.
What is Guerrilla Goodness? Tell us about it: how it started, what it is and what you envision it can be?
Guerrilla Goodness is intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways for strangers, friends, and family.
Guerrilla goodness is dropping flowers on strangers’ doorsteps, chalking up sidewalks outside of schools with good wishes on the first day of school, leaving quarters in all the gumball machines in town, slipping starbucks gift cards into books at the library for the next reader to find.
I did guerrilla kindness adventures in college and after, but started documenting them in 2007 on my blog after a particularly sweet mission (for me) I did to remember a friend that had passed away of cancer. It sort of just took off after that and I started to invite people all over the country to join me, and they did.
We now have 10 Guerrilla Goodness City Chapters, 20 more interested cities and hundreds more practicing anonymous acts of kindness. I would love for it to expand or grow however it is meant to and whatever rises up organically. There is a big interest from schools right now that I am really excited about. Kids and kindness are definitely my jam, they just get it.
More than anything, I would love for it to be a big, wide entry point for people to discover kindness in an innovative way which may then lead people to thinking about kindness more deeply, as a potential way of life.
Do you ever find it difficult to sustain your kindness? If yes, when and what do you do to come back to it?
I don’t find it difficult to sustain but I have had trouble recognizing which side I am meant to be on at any given moment. For so long I was on the giving end and that was hard to carry, but then I realized it was all fluid. I needed to see and stand in the other side of kindness, receiving or offering it to myself. You really can’t understand or know the fullness of kindness until you have experienced both. When I start to feel overwhelmed, grouchy or tapped out now, I eventually realize I am on the wrong end. I still struggle with this and am learning more everyday about each important part.
Whose presence do you most enjoy being in and why?
My partner Jorge for sure. He is wise in a gentle way and there is a very genuine magic quality to him. I appreciate his playfulness and tender heart. I really have never met anyone quite like him, he knows love deeply and offers it accordingly.
What would you say are some of the best ways to inspire, educate and ignite the spark, the possibility and the life force that exists in all people?
I think we all have something inside of us, that thing we know and hold dear, deep in our bones. If you peeled back all the stuff layered on top and asked yourself what it is that you really love, more than anything, what would it be? You don’t have to have a plan, or be an expert, you can be afraid or unsure, you can be confused and cloudy about the details…but whatever it is, listen to it, do it, even just for a tiny bit each day.
It almost always starts small and kinda messy, and then there are times it just totally flows and feels right but you never know what can be or is if you don’t start or try.
What’s next for you?
Oh, I have about 57,000 ideas in my head, but the one rising to the top at the moment is a small book on kindness and grief. We all have all kinds of loss and grief we are carrying and I’m realizing there is a wide space for kindness there- small rituals, kindness missions, stories of how we find our way and ideas of how we can honor our grief. Winter feels like the right time to explore my heart and this part of life. I am looking forward to hibernating with my family and others I love, and see what comes.
Thank you Patience for agreeing to participate in bringforth’s interview series. If you are interested in learning more about Patience and her work you can visit her on the web at: www.patiencesalgado.com or www.kindnessgirl.com. You can also follow her global kindness adventure on Twitter @kindnessgirl.