I don’t know why I tend to start blogs like they are letters, but it just seems a bit more personal than my just jumping in with what I want to say. Or maybe it is just a quirk of me.
Within the past month, a friend that I had gotten to know and love lost his parents within a week of one another. I felt horrible because the first thought I had when I heard his mother had passed was, “But what about his Health Kwest.” See, Steve was the local “Khantestant” for the Genghis Grill Health Kwest, and to say that he was kicking some serious ass would be an understatement. So pairing the sadness of him losing that motivation in his weight loss goals with the fact that I could not begin to imagine what he was feeling, having lost both his parents in a week, and not being able to give him a hug (about the only thing I could do, as I did not have the right words), I couldn’t think of what I could do to show that I was there for him.
Enter a group of friends who formed the “We ❤ Steve” Surprise Party committee. These people had the same feelings I had and came together with the idea to show him our love, but also show our support in his fitness efforts. I really wanted to contribute in some way, but cooking is not a strong point, so bringing a dish to pass was out, and I am in a bit of a financial mess right now due to an argument with my insurance company, so money was not an issue. But the one thing I knew I could do was put together a video. A photo montage video. And after mentioning it to a couple of people on the committee, and explaining how it would be different from the video they had already planned, they agreed.
Thus began a 2 week period (maybe 3), of asking everyone I could who knew Steve to please mail me a photo of the two of them. And then, this past Sunday started the process of putting it all together. Then discovering I had more photos than song. Thankfully, a friend did some music editing for me creating an extended version of the song, allowing me to put in as wide a variety of photos as I received. Working an 8 hour day and then coming home and putting 2-3 more hours in editing this project and trying to make it perfect.
Now, a friend pointed out that there is a website that could have assembled all the photos into a montage for me and included some special effects. But I could not do that for 2 reasons. The first was prideful: I learned how to edit in college on a non-linear system (reel-to-reel) and wanted to play with iMovie and figure out some basic non-linear. The second had to do with love. Sure, something thrown together in a random order by an algorithmic program is quick and easy. By taking the time to look at each photo and place it to specific beats and lyrics in the music, I was putting my love into the project and making it personal, something I hoped that people would feel when watching the finished project.
Then the raves started coming in. For the OTHER video. The original video. I kept seeing comments by the organizing committee on how brilliant it was. I shared mine in the thread, but no one said anything. And my confidence went out the window. Two of my friends were life savers and confidence boosters during this time, telling me how great mine was in a different way. Finally, the night before the party, I shared my finished project with the committee, so they knew what they had to work with and determine where in the program it would go. And one of them sent me a response that meant more than he will ever know. “Magical.”
Friday, 12 April was the night of the party. There were some travel difficulties (stupid Chicago rush hour traffic) and of course I did not save the files in the proper format for the computer the projector was connected to. Thankfully, I had my handy dandy laptop with me and could export the files in the proper format. WHEW!
And when my two videos played, I still wanted to leave the room. I felt embarrassed when called out for making them. I tried to brush off any praise because it made me feel uncomfortable.
But, I gave the best gift that I knew I could give. I made it with all the love and friendship that I have. And it touched the heart of the person I wanted it to touch. Who could ask for anything more?
I know, in the post I said videos, a plural. But I only talked about one. On Wednesday night, I realized that we did not have anything relating to Steve’s Health Kwest put together. We had something with his onstage work and something to give him a visualization of his circle of friends, but nothing on his workouts. I asked a friend with more video editing experience if he knew of a way I could pull videos off of YouTube, as the websites I had tried were absolute disasters, and he helped me out. Thursday night found me editing “Edge of Glory” by Lady GaGa to just the chorus, then putting together a short video using clips Steve created for the social media challenges he had during his Health Kwest. It was about a 5 hour project, and I think it turned out pretty ok.