Editor’s note: University of Washington visual journalism student Regina Friedland recently shadowed Bellevue resident Melissa Maslan on three different days, documenting Maslan’s life in a photo project titled “A Joyful Life.” Here is how Friedland described her experience:
This is a glimpse into Maslan’s life, a 48-year-old developmentally disabled woman. She possesses qualities that so many strive for in life and never attain. Watching her interactions with family, friends, animals and coworkers, her curiosity, eagerness and ability to love and care deeply are evident. Maslan stops and smells the roses, being not only keyed into those around her, humans and pets alike, she’ll relish a simple, ordinary moment and derive much joy. Her enthusiasm can be contagious. A co-worker shared an experience — upon arriving at work during a personally challenging and “awful” start to her day, she was greeted warmly and with much excitement by Maslan, turning around her mood and outlook.
Maslan takes the time to learn about those around her, whether it’s someone already in her life or a store employee where she’s shopping, she is always using her interpersonal skills asking if they have kids, pets and other questions to get to know those around her.