Meaning to Share Podcast: Ep 006 - Derrick Waller
1:13AM Jul 22, 2021
Everybody has a story. And you don't know, you don't know what that person has been through, you don't know what challenges or losses that person has had, you don't know what wins that they had as well. And I just think that the more that we understand that everyone's unique, everyone has a story, that there's a level of compassion in that. And I think understanding that naturally, people will be more kind.
This is Meaning to Share, the podcast where we explore the amazing gifts of seemingly average individuals, proving that everyone has a meaningful skill, talent or strength that is unique only to them, and which they are destined to share with others during this lifetime. I'm your host, Meredith McCreight. I spent decades painfully trying to fold myself into the boxes that other people, the media and society created for me until I realized there was only one authentic version of me. And that is more than enough. In fact, it's divine. I want to show my guests and you the listeners that each of us is meant for greatness. It's already in you, you just have to choose to see it and embody it. Now my guest doesn't know ahead of time which gift of their's we'll be discussing, so please enjoy this unscripted, honest, delicious conversation with one of my favorite people. This is Meaning to Share.
My guest today is Derrick J. Waller. Derrick is a proud graduate of the University of Virginia, class of 2002, and has spent his whole life in this great state of Virginia currently residing in Charlottesville. His daily grind is pharmaceutical research, but Derrick's expressive outlet is photography, where he finds great joy in documenting candid moments of everyday life. Derrick's appreciation of photography started at an early age but mainly as a "looker" and not a "taker." He spent countless hours thumbing through family photo albums and asking his loved ones the who, what, when, where and why, for every image captured. It wasn't until the unexpected loss of his mother that Derrick made the decision to stop thinking about picking up a camera and actually do it. This interest quickly became a passion. And now he feels like he's missing out on moments if he's not documenting them. When Derrick doesn't have a camera in his hand, you'll find him spending time with his beautiful wife Sarah and their baby girl, Josephine.
Derrick and I met through the Prolyfyck Run Creww. We're both in the cruiser group, which is to say that we're not the fastest runners. But I'm grateful for that because one day we leaned on each other for strength and support to get through a tough run. And we just kind of fell into an easy friendship from there. Derrick is so warm and easy to love. And we talk about that a lot in this conversation. We talked about where that kindness came from, how sometimes it's to his detriment, and how the world can learn to be a little more kind by adopting one simple philosophy that he lives his life by. I'm so inspired by this wonderful human. Please join me in welcoming my friend, Derrick Waller.
Hi, Derek. Welcome to Meaning to Share.
Hey, Meredith. Good to be here. Really excited to have this conversation with you today.
Yeah, I'm so glad you could make it. I know. It's been a busy week for both of us. So I appreciate you being here.
Well, Derrick, tell us about you. Where are you from? And what's your cultural background and upbringing.
I'm actually originally from Danville, Virginia small little town about two and a half hours south of Charlottesville. I grew up there all my life. Actually, I lived in the same house for 18 years before I moved up to Charlottesville to go to UVA—that's what brought me to Charlottesville so I've actually lived in two cities my whole life so far. So Danville, Virginia Charlottesville Virginia. So Virginia boy. I've entertained the thought of leaving many times but um, I don't know I just keep keep getting called back or keep having a reason to stay in Virginia. So yeah, from Danville, Virginia I grew up there all my life parents are both from that area. I have a brother and a sister both older, actually way older. That's a unique part of my story, actually. My, I guess my mom, I believe was about 42 when she had me so I came I definitely came along later in life as she would like to she would like to say that she has passed away actually now and there's all kinds of funny stories about her crying at my sister's graduation. Everybody thought it was because you're introducing this brand new baby boy into the world and she was like Yeah, that's true but it's more so I've gotten, both of my kids are leaving for college and now I'm starting all over so the tears are for a number of different reasons some happy some I'm pretty crazy. Yeah. So older brother older sister, you know I am black. That is a very important part of who I am and I I own that and love that about me. Yeah, Danville, Virginia born and raised and been in Charlottesville for a now, honestly, over 20 years, since 1998 I've been in Charlottesville. So that's a little bit about me and who I am.
I'm sorry to hear about your mom.
I've actually lost both of my parents. Yeah, I lost. My mom, this year will be 10 years that I've lost my mother. She actually is a very important part of my life, my story, but um, she had breast cancer. And interestingly, she actually was diagnosed with breast cancer. I think initially, when I was in high school, so long time ago, she, she, she beat it and went to full remission. And then later in life, I'm not sure how many years later got re diagnosed with, I think, a different type of breast cancer. And it's crazy. It's one of those stories that I'll never forget it. It was, you know, you wouldn't have known she had breast cancer, the only way that you would know it is if she was wearing a wig. So it wasn't her natural hair. But other than that, like she was looking great. She was doing great. She was on in good spirits, like, you know, no, no symptoms other than she was, she was having treatment behind the scenes, but she wasn't no signs that she was going through something. And I had talked to her on it. I remember the Sunday while I talked to her, she was great. She had a great day, she spent some time with the family as a family that were in town visiting. And yeah, I get a call on the next day on a Monday that they're rushing my mom to the hospital because she was having some shortness of breath. And so my sister who lives actually in the area, she's in crochet, my sister called me I think she got the call first. I think maybe I was at work. And I was on a phone call. And I missed a call from one of my family members. But then she called me and I was like, hold on. This is weird back to back calls from different family members and something didn't feel right. And yeah, she called me she was able to get in touch with me say, Hey, I got a call that they're rushing our mother to the hospital. We jumped in the car as soon as we could like within the next 20 minutes and hit the road. And it was it was pretty sad. I mean, it was like one of those things. I it was crazy. Because we were driving down, were being positive. We were getting these regular updates from one of our sisters friends actually still lives in Danville. And she's a nurse in Danville. So she was giving us regular updates about you know, she's stable, and just, you know, what was going on. And we were getting these updates, updates, you know, every 20 minutes every 15 minutes. And then the update stopped about halfway through our trip. And we were asking for information and we weren't getting any responses. And we kind of at that point knew that something had something wasn't quite right. And so yeah, by the time that we got to Danville my mom had passed away she actually had, they said, a cardiac arrest. And it was it was based on they think it was just a complication with her her chemotherapy treatment. So yeah, I miss her. I miss her a lot. Um, you know, especially as you know, a lot of things have changed in my life since since she's been away. And there's a lot of life moments and special memories that I would have loved to create with her while she
Yeah, you have your own family, now.
I do I do that way. You know, I'm Sarah. My wife actually never got to meet my mom. So she knows. You know, that's, that's heartbreaking to me. And now I have a little girl Josephine, who whenever in the in the flesh meet her her grandmother. But actually, there's little things I see about her all the time. They remind me of my mom. So I know that there's been some some those traits, you know, passed along to her. So it's very special.
I love that, I'm sure she's with you somehow, right?
Well, thank you for sharing that. And it's surprising to me, because I didn't know you'd only lived in two cities, you seem so just well rounded and educated and exposed to the world. So I never would have guessed that. But that's cool.
That's true. It's only two cities. Now I've traveled a decent amount. Well, not growing up. Like you know, I grew up from a very humble family setting. That's that's part of my story. But my dad, I believe, I think he only went to the fourth grade. He only has a fourth grade education. Because again, I mentioned my parents were older when they had me. So during his when he was growing up, it was all about helping out the family. So you know, he basically got to the fourth grade and his family needed him to start working on the farm that they lived on. And so he he had to drop out of school and help make money for the family to make, you know, make ends meet. So he's pretty much at that point, taught himself how to read and write in my mom. She did graduate high school, but she never went to college. So they always, you know, pushed education on us, my brother and my sister and I really hard just because that was something that they weren't necessarily afforded. And they really saw the value in it and really wanted us to educate ourselves. So my brother and sister also went to UVA as well. And that was one of the reasons why I wanted to sort of follow in your footsteps. So yeah, I, I didn't grow up with we didn't have a lot of money growing up, you know, we grew up very humble beginnings. My dad actually from a profession standpoint, he worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber. So he was very, you know, manual labor really hard worker, he also did have his own business as well. He was a plumber by trade. So I grew up like on Saturdays, wanting to play with my friends, but having to go to plumbing jobs all the time, when it's funny today, I would love to have remembered that stuff. But it was one of the things that despises so much that I like, did not. I don't I mean, there's little things that I can do in the plumbing area. But there's so much more I wish that you know, hindsight is 2020. Right? If I would have known where I want to go in life. And you know how valuable that information would be, I would have paid a lot more attention to those jobs I was on on the Saturday but I just despise waking up and wanting to go play basketball in the backyard and he saying you can play but it has to be after you've done come to call me these three jobs that have to do so. So yeah, professionally, that's what he did. But my point is my mom didn't work she actually stayed home with me. She did have a trade as well. She was a seamstress. So she did you know make money making everyone and their mamas, whatever kind of outfit gowns wedding dresses. She was very, very amazing in the area of design and clothes and fixing clothes and yet a zipper call RPG that's my mom's name, Barbara. And yeah, that's that's kind of so yeah, my point is long story to say we didn't we didn't travel a lot as a kid, we didn't have a lot of means to go a lot of different places or one normal vacation spot, we went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a lot growing up, that was pretty much the only place. And that's I think that drove me to say that when I did well, when I was able to start traveling, really take those opportunities. And so you mentioned that I sent seem very well rounded. I wouldn't say that about myself. But I've definitely taken the opportunities to try to go and see the world and see that the country and as many places that I can go you know, try to learn about other cultures and learn about other you know, ways of life and learn about you know, how someone in California lives versus someone in the East Coast, you know, so I really appreciate those opportunities and take them every time I get a chance.
I love that. And I think you know, your parents would be so proud. And I love that you had such a focus on education and kind of rewriting the story, right? Like, I think a lot of people get stuck in what was dealt to their, their parents or their parents' parents. And they kind of you know, just to say, this is what was given to me, this is what I was dealt, and I love to hear that, you know, I'll you and your siblings were like, nope, we're gonna we're gonna rewrite that. And I'm sure that was very much influenced by your parents, which is amazing.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think the cool thing about that, too, is not education, and just the formal setting either it's just learning. Like loving to learn. Like I think that's the culture that they kind of just wanted us to be always curious, always learning something. So not just you know, you have to go to college. I mean, they Oh, course wanted that. Because again, not because it's college, though, but because that's given you had opportunity to be around new people to learn new things from you know, people that have different experiences that as you lead, I think that that's what the coolest part about the whole education thing for me wasn't like, just go get a whole bunch of degrees...
...it was like, just continuously learn about the world, and about people. And, yeah, so you know, I have an interest in me, you know, the business of college bothers me a lot, because I think sometimes you lose that, you know, you know, the fact that the money making aspect of going to college kind of just bugs me, because I think sometimes it can get lost and what's the read? What was the purpose behind getting the education or going to learn? It's not it's not just to pay somebody X amount of money to then say this piece of paper represents, you know, how knowledgeable I am or how well first I am in a certain topic. And I think that, that misses the point A lot of times and so sort of sometimes the business around formal education, just I don't know, it just bugs me.
I totally agree. I think about this a lot like starting at the high school level even because we'll probably even earlier than that, but that's when I first remember taking standardized tests, and I'm actually an okay test taker because I'm a visual person so I'll make flashcards and I'll memorize it, but like the second I'm done with that test, it is not in my brain anymore, so I didn't really learn it. I memorized it for a test, but it also like never served me later, like so I think people that have these amazing skill trades, you know, the woodworkers, the seamstresses, the plumbers, the people that can you know, work on HVAC systems, I can't do any of that. It's an it's so amazing. And it's so needed, like, we need those people. And those are such wonderful qualities. But we don't encourage people to do those things. We're like, No, you need to be good at math, and you need to pass this history test. And you need to be able to write an essay, and I think there's some value and all of that stuff. But we do miss a lot of the like, well, what are you passionate about? And what are you good at? And how do we nurture that?
Absolutely, you know, there's a lot of barbers that make a lot more money, then you know, someone that has a four year degree in education is working a job that they don't even like, you know, so there's definitely that's, that's the type of education I like, is like learning or thinking about things in that way. You know, what else can you— I value looking at education in all aspects.
Okay, so I like to start by asking all of my guests one question, and you can just say, whatever comes to your mind, what is something that you've been meaning to share?
Something I've been meaning to share. I love being a dad. I absolutely love being a dad. I love being I like being a husband to a lot. Well, sorry. I love being a husband too. I love being in a you know, I love my relationship with my wife, but I really love being a father.
I think I knew that I would. I mean, it's one of those things where if I would have you know, and thinking about where I wanted my life to go, I didn't always know professionally what I wanted to do. I didn't know where where I wanted to live. But I always knew I wanted to be a dad, and a good dad. But you know, you don't know until you're in it. Right? So I was like, Okay, I think I want to be I want to be a dad, to be honest with you. I didn't know it was gonna happen. I mean, it's kind of not that I had given up on being a father. But you know, we all I think a lot of times you have sort of a plan for your life, you have sort of a timeline for your life. And when it doesn't work out that way, you kind of I think maybe there's there are some people that can adjust really well, we'll fight the fact that something doesn't go the way that was planned. But I think I've been one of those people that sometimes when my plan doesn't go the way I want it to, it's hard for me to sort of re steer the ship. And I think this was one of the areas of my life where I thought I was gonna get married a lot younger, I thought I was going to be a father a lot younger. And it didn't quite happen that way. So I was I was started getting to the point in life where I'm okay if I'm not a father, but I say if if that ever does happen to me, I want I want to be a great one. I want to really love it. And that has definitely been the true case for me. I have really enjoy being a dad. Now I know I'm really early in it. I'm really early in the game too. So I know, you know when she can start talking back and telling me No, I might not be feeling that way. Meredith but at least right now. I'm really enjoying fatherhood.
Yeah, mmm, well, it really shows and I don't know, Sarah, that well actually don't know who've ever officially met. But I can just tell the way that you guys kind of come together as a unit and love Josie and bring her around and let the community love on her and and support her and just kind of involve her in everything that you do. I love that. I think it shows so much that you guys have so much love for her and that you want to do the best for her. So you're doing a good job.
Thank you. Yeah, I mean that, honestly, that's the only way that we would work to be honest with you, because we're both pretty busy individuals, honestly, both have full time jobs. We both are entrepreneurs outside of that as well. So you know, the only way that I think we can make everything work is to involve all members of our family in you know, most aspects of our life. So.
Yeah, totally. I was talking to I don't have children, obviously. But I was talking to a friend of mine who has twins. And we talked a lot when they were younger, they're nine now. And she really wanted to stay at work and keep up with all the things she does. And she volunteers a lot. She is like an amazing runner, and cyclist and mountain biker and she does all the things. So she's just she's always been really busy and really independent. And she's also like the best mom. And I think she really struggled with how to balance that. But it ended up that she set such a great example for her kids that you don't have to give up your life to be a good parent. You know, like, that's a really good lesson to pass on. So.
Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Yeah, so any guesses which gift or skill or strength of yours I want to talk about today?
I'm really struggling with this. I don't know because the obvious would be photography. Hmm. And maybe the way I see the world or through my lens maybe. But, you know, I've listened to now a few of your shows. I don't know, they don't always go the way I think they might go. So I'm not quite sure.
Yeah. Well, you are an amazing photographer. I mean, your ability to capture emotion and just like a fraction of a moment is such a talent. I don't know how you do it, I really don't. But you take the most beautiful photos. And I, like feel like I'm there in the moment. I like feel emotion from them. So that's obviously an amazing gift. And not one I want to talk about today. Though it is no doubt connected.
Okay. Thank you very much for the compliment, though.
Yeah. What I want to talk about today is that you have this wonderful way about you that's incredibly gentle and strong at the same time. You're just so generous, and affectionate and humble and full of gratitude. And you just exude this warmth that is like magnetic, like I literally counted no less than 10 people the other day. So we're in a run group together. And there's this hill at the end, where you come up 8th Street, and it's brutal. And there were like, at least 10 people that came up this hill, and just ran straight to Derrick and hugged him. So they ran straight into your arms. And, you know, I've seen a lot of people hug in our run group, but I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that, where so many people, you know, they were so comfortable with you that they just did the hardest thing they're gonna do all day, which is run up that steep ass shitty hill, and they're completely out of breath, drenched in sweat, and they chose to come fall into your arms. And I just thought that was just so touching. And I was, you know, talking to Caroline about how to describe this, this warmth that you have about you and this like magnetism. And she said in a very beautiful and profound way. So I'll use her words, she said you are radically kind. So I wanted to talk with you about that today. How does that feel?
Wow, I'm like speechless right now. Yeah, that sounds great to talk about. But man, that's very humbling to hear even. I got to take a minute.
Yeah. Well, you are obviously a loving friend and husband and father, like we just talked about. And you know, it sounds like you had a really close relationship with your mom and your dad. And I know you mentioned some other family that was nearby. Is there somebody in your family or in your life that you can kind of attribute this kindness, this warmth to? Or is that something that you learned later in life?
I could talk about this probably a whole podcast about my mom, to be honest with you, you know, I'll speak on my dad for a second. So I was close with my dad, but in a very weird way, a different way. My dad was present in our family's life. I mean, he was he was amazing. He's a I mean, I just mentioned, like, he taught himself how to read and write, he preached education to us, he worked a full time job, very male labor, really hard work, you know, multiple different shifts in this and found fourth shift, sometimes third shift through the night, but then he would also, you know, run this plumbing business, so incredibly hard worker, and that that's one of the things that I got from him is hard work. But he wasn't necessarily really present in my life, because he couldn't be not because he didn't want to be, but because like, I don't think he ever went to a sporting event, or, you know, play sports or to, you know, up until high school pretty much and some in high school as well. But he'd really didn't make a lot of my games, you know, and I miss that. I wish that he could have done that. But I also knew why he couldn't do that is because he was trying to support our family. So I did, I think I caught on to that at a very early age. So I wasn't really resentful of that because I knew his rationale behind him not being there. So on the other hand, I spent a lot of time with my mother. And I think her her natural disposition. I guess if that's the word is gentle, unkind. I mean, if you know you mentioned that story about me, all the people at the top of the hill, give me hugs. That's exactly how you be. My mom walked into her room, she walks into the room, everybody would come say hello, everybody would come and speak to her. And it's because that's what she gave off. That's the energy that she put out into the world. And I think that's just the way that the world always brought it back to her. She was the mom, dad, you when you're growing, you're growing up and you got kids in neighborhood. And you know, you know someone might not have a meal, they know they come to our house, knock on the door and they could get fed a meal. She would give you the clothes off her bag to make sure that you're you're you're okay. You're doing okay. She would you know, she she called everybody in neighborhood. She caught everybody in the family. She was kind of the backbone and the rock. And I saw that and she was just just her spirit, her nature, her gentleness, her kindness, her care for people her love is just exuded. And I think I saw that and I wanted to emulate that. But I think some of was just naturally I just inherited that because I think that's what I carry with. My mom. I think the most is just a kind warm-hearted spirit. Cause it's at the point I don't think about it that way. So as you mentioned it to me, I don't think about it. That's just how I live life. I just love heart I love big, and I'm just generally a nice person, because I guess I grew up with that, you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And I just kind of really live by that and try to, you know, carry that out, you know, throughout my life. And I think so. Yeah. Something I think I've always had that. I've was told that, you know, as a young kid, I've always just been one person that would always share always, you know, give my last. And I think I just grew up in this just carry along with me as I've gotten older.
Mmm. Well, I will just say, I think it's very rare for people to just have that in them and not struggle to maintain it. I know. Like, I it's definitely like, patience is something I had to learn. And I wasn't necessarily a modeled that at home, if I'm being honest. So maybe that's why I had to unlearn some things and learn to new things. But I think, you know, it is such a gift, because it's something that comes easily to you. And that's kind of what our gifts are right. It's like stuff that we don't have to work at. And we don't really think about, we're just good at it. It's just something that comes naturally to us. And so yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense that, that your mom was that way and and you kind of got that from her whether you inherited some of it, or whether you were modeled that or both. But yeah, definitely see that in you.
Wow, that's really, really nice to hear. I mean, like I said, You know, I never thought about what you just mentioned about a gift is something that you just kind of do, and you're good at naturally. You know, you don't think about it that way. But Wow, that's powerful, too.
And sometimes there are things that bring us joy that we're like, not good at, but like dancing, like even if you're like a terrible dancer, but you're like, Oh my gosh, I just it's just like lights me up, I think that can still be still be a gift if you choose to do that and let it light you up. But.
Definitely you know what, though, I think interestingly, though, as I just gave their response, I can already hear if anyone listens to this them saying it does he get mad I've never seen very angry or get upset. So the funny thing about it even though I am very kind-natured and that is a general that's my that's who I am. That's not like a front or fake or me putting on like, what you see is what you get. That is really who I am. However, I'm very passionate, I will say that even though you might not see me get angry, I do get angry, I do get I'm very so I'm just I'm just a passionate person. So if I really feel strongly about something, you'll know, you wouldn't know that, you know, if somebody really makes me mad, or I have like little pet peeves that somebody will will do, you will know about that. Now I try to like hold that in. And that's my patience, patience with people, patience with myself that I've had to, I've had to continuously grow that as I've gotten older, to be more reserved, and to also like, you know, hold my tongue or, you know, it's one of those little lessons, you know, like, Do unto others as you would have into you. But another one is just like, if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all. I tried to sort of live by these little things. And it's, it's very difficult for me at times, even though the people that don't see me on a regular basis or in aren't in an intimate setting with me necessarily. They don't see it. So I know sometimes somebody will say, Does he ever get mad? Or does he ever get upset? Or is he ever? Did you ever have a bad day? And of course, I definitely do. But yeah.
It's funny that you just said, If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Because I was literally just thinking about that saying yesterday, and I was thinking about how there's a difference between nice and kind. So sometimes there could be something that, you know, the kind thing to say is maybe something somebody doesn't want to hear, but they need to hear it. My next question is going to be Do you ever get mad? And if so, like, how does that show up for you? But you said, you know, if you were upset about something, you'll know it? What does that look like? Like? How do you express that?
I'm pretty vocal. Actually, people handle conflicts in different ways, right? So you know, you have the person that they're upset about something they can't talk about right now they need to step away. And then you have the people that they want to talk about it right then and there and have a resolution. And that's me, like when I'm upset about something or there is you know, I am angry, I really want to talk about it right now. Let's just communicate, let's talk about it. Let's get it over with and everybody's not like that. And that's the hardest part for me, because I that's what I would want to do. And that's what I want to handle in resolving and communicating. Let's get it out the way right now. So because of that I'm pretty vocal when there's something that I don't like, I want to talk about it. I want to get it off my chest. I know that that's selfish sometimes. And I think I've learned that in life. There's this book that I don't read a lot. I need to read more. That's one of my things that I really want to do. Time is a challenge for me. So, I know that that can be an excuse. Because I know a lot of people that are super busy or busier than I have that they love reading, they'll find time to read. But every now and then I will pick up a book. And there was a book that I read a while back, it was called the five love languages. I don't know if you ever Are you familiar with that book or heard that heard of that book before.
I have read that book. And I know what my love languages? Well, there are two, a top two. And I tried to give love in the same way that I receive it often. And without thinking that that's not how people want to receive.
Exactly right. I really think that that book, and again, I'm not necessarily that book, per se, but my the topics in that book I feel could save the world, they could change the world. And that's really, really in a nutshell, it is just that people love, show love and give love in a different way. And if you are open to understanding that all problems could be solved. And I say that full circle and the whole the conflict resolution, because what that book did for me is just open up my eyes and say that everybody doesn't deal with things the same way that you do. So you have to give people that grace that time and be able to sort of compromise and understand that just because you want to handle a certain type of way doesn't mean that that person does too. So there has to be some some compromise there. And so that that book, what it talks about, you know, is basically everybody loves differently. And then typically, like you mentioned, Meredith, there's the way that you you receive love is how you give love, and if someone doesn't receive it the same way, like what's wrong with them. And but what that, you know, it taught it just it just has amazing examples in there about really, that people are different. And you just got to recognize that and you got to understand that and you gotta you got to sometimes love people on their level instead of your level. Or you have to have a conflict resolution on their level on the inside of your level. And so yeah, I don't know if that's, that's probably a long winded answer to answer. You know, what does that look like? I'm pretty expressive. I'm pretty vocal, I'm pretty I can get heightened in my tone and my my voice and I know that probably sounds crazy to most people that have never seen that a me But yeah, I can definitely I can I can raise my voice. For sure.
That's good to know that you're human then.
So Josie, your daughter, she's so precious, what do you hope that you'll pass along to her about being kind and gentle?
I said earlier in the conversation that there's some things that I see my daughter that I saw from Emma mom. And that that's exactly it, I feel that Josie is already just a very kind natured person, I see Then how she interacts with other children, like at her school, or her daycare, I see her see it, how she interacts with us, our family members. So go, you know, full circle, I don't know if it's that she's sort of observing how we interact with each other in our own household. You know, Josie is that we joke Josie has a COVID baby. So you know, her interactions with people are very limited so far in her 11 month old life. So she doesn't have a lot to go on, other than what she sees in our house. But I think she's naturally sort of just picked up on that kind of spirit, or again, it's just part of her natural personality. I think that's something that maybe just got passed along, hopefully through our DNA somehow. I don't know if that's possible. But yeah, I really just want her to, you know, have compassion. And understand that actually, one of the themes of I think one of the things about love about your podcast, when you explain it is that you want sort of just normal people to understand that they have a gift to give to the world. And one of the things that I sort of live by, and this is in photography, and just life — everybody has a story. You don't know what someone's story is, you don't know, you know, the person that you see and could easily judge about, you know, because they are angry at the world or they are not dressed to a certain type of way, you could easily judge that person. But that person has a story and you have no idea what that story is, you had no idea what happened to influence that person's life to where it is on that day that you could see in just him. So I live my life like that. And so I hope to pass that along to her hope that she sees that in my interactions with people that I'm compassionate, I'm understanding that I'm patient is to just understand that people have a story. And you all know what that is. So you know, one thing that you can control is your actions towards that person. So let those be kind actions. Let that be a you know, a caring heart, I would say.
Yeah, that's beautiful. Well, I wanted to also talk about the fact that our country and our local community here in Charlottesville have been rumbling with issues of racism and inequality for I mean, really, forever, but it seems now more than ever, it's becoming more evident and allies and accomplices are rising to the occasion. I'm curious if there are some conversations, you've caught yourself in that if you were honest, you wanted to be less than kind during these times?
Oh, yeah, of course. Of course. You know, I don't have any really good examples. But you know, how everyone you say a lot of people are drawn towards me. So with that being said, is sometimes people can be a little too comfortable with me. So I had that happen as well. Were many times where people that they liked me, they like being around me that we have good conversations, we have a friendship, a connection, and then there'll be times where somebody will feel maybe a little too comfortable with me, and you might hear a little something that just triggers you. And my Wait, hold on what you say. So yeah, definitely. Definitely. I've had a lot of conversations where they've been uncomfortable. They've been things that push me, they've been things that trigger me. There have been Yeah, a lot of challenging conversations over the again, I won't say like, you know, we're talking about the more now, you know, after the death of George Foy. I mean, you hear you know, that they're more visual, our I don't know, not visual, but they're more prevalent, I would say, but, you know, as a person that's black, these are not new to me, you know, these things are not new to me. So, yeah. I don't think that answers your question at all.
No, I think it does. I that's sort of what I was wondering is because you are so open, and people are drawn to you and comfortable around you, if there have been times where people have just sort of assumed that you'd be willing to educate them or, you know, bear that burden of teaching them something when, like you said, like, it's it's new to a lot of us white folks to like, actually be doing the work on a daily basis, but it's not new. It's new to you. So yeah, I was just wondering if you've caught yourself in that situation and just sort of wanted to be like, yo, leave me alone. This is your this is your business, like you need to deal with this.
You know, I mean, I, I do I do, there's definitely times where I'm like, yo, you got to fix this problem, not me, you know, it's not mine. I'm not the person with the problem here. It's, you know, you and yours. But you know, also, it depends on the person, right? It depends on the situation, too, because I do think that there are some very constructive conversations that can be held with someone who really wants to learn who really wants to understand how you feel, from your experience. And so those even when, even when sometimes you have those uncomfortable conversations, or something's said it's like, oh, I don't know about that, you know, you have that decision sort of made, is this person really coming? Is that comment out of a lack of understanding? And from a person that wants to understand, or is it just an ignorant comment, or our conversation or communication point. So if the if it's coming from the point of really wanting to learn and understand that's a little bit different, and I'm happy to have those conversations, I'm happy that you know, but I do think that it's not my job to do the work as well. So.
So true. So you are a photographer, as we have established, and I love what you've been doing on your Instagram with the black and white photography. And it seems like you've been doing that for a while now. Can you tell us about what kind of projects or themes you're working on? You mentioned, everyone has a story. And I feel like there's some stories behind what you're working on.
It's interesting right now, I'm just, I just I just put myself in places where there antithesis, stories to be captured. That's kind of like what I'm working on. Whether that's taking photos with gray, he just had a conversation with after one of our prolific run crew runs where there is a Juneteenth event at the Jefferson school, whether it's I just posted some photos of the Charlottesville skatepark that took out earlier this year, actually, when COVID was pretty heavy, it was not much going on outside. But I think all of it is with you know, when I'm thinking about when I'm out, just taking photos is everybody has a story. And just you know, you mentioned a motion, you know, that's one of the things that I really enjoy capturing about our Catcher in photography is just that raw motion. You know, it's funny, so my wife, I mentioned she has a business she's a wedding planner, everybody when I say that, I know my photographer says oh my gosh, it's the perfect parent, you got a wedding planner, you have photographer but actually don't like shooting weddings personally because you know, I like to capture candid moments and only can demo it. So that's my favorite thing to capture. You know, I do take you know family portraits and I do family photos and you know your headshot to stage sort of photos, but I really loved his candid moments in weddings, I think you had to do a lot of that, you know, stage photography. But I just love capture raw, candid moments. And so everything that I do in regards to photography is really based around just that. So I have quite a few projects going on. I have I shoot a lot for UVA, I do a lot of stuff with UVA and some of their their events. And now that things are opening back up, and people are back outside, you know, I'm getting really busy with that I do a lot of annual reports for companies. So helping them develop content for their, you know, marketing and annual reports. But even when I do those type of jobs, always looking to tell a story, photo, and I really mass shoot color as well. I typically show the world, my black and white photos. And I do that because I think sometimes you can get distracted in all the color, you can get lost in all the different objects in there, because they're very colorful and bright. But when you can draw a motion in a black and white photo, I think that's a gift. So that's what I really tried to do with taking some of the days I know as a colorful moment, and I see I see the color, I try to bring the color out in the black and white.
Mmm. That is really beautiful. Do you think that your ability to draw people towards you and make them feel comfortable plays into your ability to capture that emotion? Or are you truly on the sidelines trying to get stuff where people don't notice you're there?
That's a good question. I really like to be on the sidelines and not let people know that I'm there. Even though I do have a huge camera sometimes. So it's hard to be super secretive. But, you know, I don't want people to know that I'm there. However, I do think that my ability to connect with people drives the art form, though. And I think that it actually might, it might help me in a lot of ways. Because if someone does see me shooting, and then they know who I am, I think there's a comfort level there. Because sort of my ideas, I don't share photos of someone, if I wouldn't want the photo shared of me in this light, I'm not going to share the photo of someone else. So I think as people know me, and they get to know me and my art, they feel that and they sense that and they can be themselves. And so I think that my ability to connect with people does help my art. But I do think I do really prefer to sort of be off that aside, and just just capturing those special moments that are very candid and real. And if someone's angry, I want I want them to be angry and be comfortable with that. Because as real and as who you are. That's who we are as people. I love that. And I want to capture that. Yeah.
What would you say to our country right now, in terms of being more kind? What can we learn? What can we practice?
Probably, I mean, you know, I've kind of hit on this earlier in the conversation. But I think this is important to understand that everybody has a story. And we that's kind of where the where it goes back to everybody has a story. And you don't know, you don't know what that person has been through. You don't know what challenges or losses that person has had. You don't know what wins that they had as well. And I just think that the more that we understand that everyone's unique, and everyone has a story, that there's a level of compassion in that. And I think understanding that naturally, people will be more kind.
Yeah, there's something that I'm sure I'll butcher it. But Brene Brown said something in either a talk or a book or both. But it was kind of the same effect, which is everyone's doing the best they can with what they have in this moment. You don't know if somebody got an eviction notice that morning. And that's why they're driving erratically because they're losing their mind. They're freaking out, like when someone cuts you off in traffic, like you just don't know what drove that behavior. And so I think it is helpful to think about it that way. You just don't know. You don't know what their story is not just from their life story. But like today, yesterday. This week.
Absolutely. I mean, before you got on the call, I mentioned to you that, you know, my daughter was a daycare today and um, they called us and told us that she had a fever and she had to be picked up. So that could easily impact me in my day. And, you know, add to my stressor, potentially, of what else I had going on today that now have to alter a little bit, do you right, you just don't know what you don't know. Again, it's not necessarily your life is influenced or impacted that but it's literally what happened five minutes ago, they could have triggered or impacted you. And you know, it's not easy to do. I would say always it's not easy to always be that aware. You know, because if somebody cuts you off in traffic you're not necessarily gonna think about, oh, that person had a bad day or something that might have happened to them. But I think it's a practice, you just have to kind of, I don't know, be, I can't think of the right word to sort of an awareness? It takes it takes practice, to be honest with you. It takes practice, it's not easy. There's always things that are going to test you. But again, if you have this awareness that people have, you know, people have challenges, people have life, people have things going on. I think it's just naturally you're way more kind to people, and how you deal with them and treat them.
Yeah. And I think, like, I know you were looking for another word, but I think awareness is such a good word. Because we so often go through our entire day, in our own little world, our own little bubble thinking, you know, everything that's happening to us is such a big deal. And we forget that there's a whole other world out there, and all these other people are experiencing all these other things. And so I think that awareness of just being able to sort of step outside of your own little bubble is really an exercise in and of itself. So yeah, being being aware enough to be able to do that. And then to say, like, what are these other layers that that other people might be experiencing? That I can, that I can keep top of mind? Or Yeah, like you said, be aware of like, have on your radar, at least the tiniest bit that there's a possibility that someone else is experiencing something painful.
Absolutely. I don't know what you said, that just kind of triggered a thought about another question I you asked about my art and projects I'm working on. So I do share and I think this ties in to your question about the world, and how would I tell the world to be more kind, another theme of my work I found recently is black joy, you know, in all of the craziness, that is, you know, again, been happening since I've been born. I mean, it's not new, like I mentioned, you always hear the bad stuff. But there's a lot of joy in the black community as well. And I don't think that almost always gets documented, or maybe maybe does get documented, but it doesn't get publicized. And when I see those moments, and I see a way to create that, or show that beautiful moment, of a little black girl smiling or a little black boy, you know, give it a high five or a hug, or I'm drawn to that. And it's just like, I feel like I want to share that with the world. Because you don't always see that in the news. So that's one of my ways to sort of just... And I don't necessarily always think about it when I'm, I don't go out looking for that. But I'm drawn to that. And I feel like that's one of the things that I can do to sort of change the narrative. And to helpfully, in a nutshell, make people be more kind because I think I really feel that a lot of times emotions and actions are reciprocated, based on what you see. Now, I heard a story one time, it just talked about kind of a joke or I don't know it was a joke or a story, but but it was about if you go into the office, if you work in an office setting, you go into the office and select one person to say, John, and you tell 30 people to say 'Hey, John, you okay? You're not feeling great today.' Or, 'are you not feeling great today? You don't look so well.' And John's like... First, he's like, you know, I feel great. I know what you're talking about. I'm wonderful, I feel great. second person comes up does the same day, you know, by the 10th time someone says that to you, John's gonna say Hmm, maybe I'm not feeling great. You know, maybe there's something wrong with me, it's, you know, 15th person says it to you next thing, you know, John's calling our office sick, you know, he said he's not feeling well. So I think you can afford people what your words and how you act and what things you say and things you do. And so you know, if I can show the world, these images of these people being happy and joyous, and understand that that's not real life all the time. But that was a real moment that I captured in that particular setting, if I can, you know, share that it's my way of sort of giving back to the world and just, you know, use if you see somebody on, you know, smiling, you're naturally going to feel better and not start smiling or not always. But you know, that is that's not going to necessarily bring a negative emotion in most cases. So just another way that I try to give back or make people think and be more kind is just sharing those moments of just joy. And I really focus on black joy, because that just makes me happy. So.
I love that. And I think it's so important to show people that that is possible, because like you said, there's a lot of negative stuff. And that's what is shown not just on the news, but I mean, even in social media, a lot of times it's like, that's what you catch wind of right. And so I like that you're showing that it's possible. And I think the more that it's shown that the more people will believe that it's possible and create more of those moments. So. That is a gift. Well, Derrick, what are you taking away from this conversation? Is there anything that you learned today that you hadn't really thought about your gift before?
It's just interesting that people are, they noticed that about me. I think what I've taken away, though, is what you mentioned about gifts, a lot of times gifts are those things that you just do naturally, you don't even know that you're doing it. But they are special, and they are important. And people do appreciate that. And people see it. You know, I've never take I haven't taken the time to think about that. Until you you mentioned that. And I think that's, it's very beautiful. And I think what I'll do from this conversation is actually put some thought into thinking about what other people's gifts are, and making sure that they are aware of that. And they're, you know, they know that people notice that about them. Because I think that makes a big difference. I can change somebody's outlook on themselves. That's really powerful.
I love that I'm glad that you can kind of pay that forward. Because I feel like that is the purpose of the show, why I thought about doing it was there's just, there's so many amazing people in my life every day. I mean, just tons of people, I could pick out like 30, just for my run group that you know, and one day could could light me up, put a smile on my face change the way I was feeling. And they don't know they're doing that for me, you know. So I think it's really important to remind people that just being themselves really is actually really helping other people and influencing their lives and making a big difference. And so it's important to let people know that.
Definitely you do the same thing, though, Meredith.
You know, I've told you this before. I don't know what made what made me tell you is randomly I was like, you're my person. Like, I don't remember, I don't know if you remember that conversation. But I was just like, we don't know each other that well, but there's certain people, there's certain people that you just meet, and you just like, you know, like, that's gonna be, we're gonna be good friends. And you're definitely that person, you definitely have that same nurturing spirit, and it's very appreciative.
Hmm. Well, that is like such a high compliment coming from you. So thank you. I really appreciate that.
Oh, maybe I'll make one last comment about something I love about your podcast is how I think we are very connected and when what we were doing with our art forms, because one of the other things that I sort of live by, at least with my photography is trying to find the beauty in the mundane. So take in something that looks totally plain and simple to the average. But make it look beautiful. And I think that is one of the things that you're doing with your podcast is just not that were mundane individuals. But you know, most of the time people would say themselves, I'm not that special. Oh, why do you want to talk to me? That's exactly how I felt when you remember our conversation. I was like, You seriously want to talk to me about what and why why me but that's exactly what I think you're doing is by finding people's gifts and talking to them about that. It's like we're all special. You don't have to be a superstar, you know, famous, you know, we all have gifts, and we're all special. I really appreciate you sharing your gift with the world as well as recognizing that about people and in sharing that.
Thank you, Derrick. Derrick, where can people find you if they want to follow you on social media or online and connect with you?
Awesome. So on social media, the platform that I use the most is Instagram. I do have a few different Instagram handles, but I'll just the main one is @wallerderrick so my last name first name. So at Waller, Derek and this W A L L E R D E R R I C K, I do have a website Derek J. Waller dot come that needs a little bit of work to be updated. But I can definitely you can reach out to me and very easy to find there as well. I'll also a paint a little bit too. And I'm starting a new sort of venture with some painting. So also @derrickjwallerart on all platforms as well.
Mmm. I don't even know if I follow that one. I don't know if I found that one buried and the others. Yes, I'm gonna go follow you today. Well, thank you so much, Derrick. Honestly, it's an honor to have you on. I really truly admire you so much. And I know that with so many people being drawn to you. Yeah, I'm just I'm just one little small fish in the pond. So I'm truly truly honored to have you know, such kind words from you and just to have this conversation with you today and for you to share your voice with us.
You're special fish Meredith.
So no, really, thank you for having me. I'm really I'm the one who's honored to be honest with you. So thank you for having me. This has been fun. I can't wait to continue growing up. friendship.
Me too. Me too. All right, bye Derrickk, by what a beautiful so if you want to see Derrick's photography and learn more about him, you can visit his website at derrickjwaller.com. That's D E R R I C K J W A L L E R dot com. You can find him on Instagram at @wallerderrick, derrickjwallerphotography, and derrickjwallerart. He's on Facebook as Derrick J. Waller photography and his handle on Twitter is @wallerderrick. if you want to follow me, Meredith McCreight, you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook with the handle @createwithoutbounds. You can visit the podcast page at meaningtoshare.com and check out more stuff from my brain at createwithoutbounds.com You can find all of Derrick's info, my info, all the social links and more in the full show notes where I've also posted some of Derrick's stunning photographs and a few of his paintings. If you love this episode, please consider going over to Apple podcast and leaving a five star review. This really helps us connect with more listeners who might find our show meaningful. Thanks for tuning into this episode. Share something meaningful this week, friends. See you next time.