Allow Your True Self to Shine.

“This isn’t me!”  This is more like  me thinking… ‘what would John like?’  What was wrong with me during that time I dated John?”

Much of our life we spend trying to figure out who we are.  We get lost in others, we want to blend, we want to feel validated.

I was sometimes afraid to be myself for fear of judgment.. But why?  Why didn’t I feel good enough and why did the opinions of certain people affect me more than others.

Many times I would do things to please others.  I would pretend I liked things I didn’t.   Half the time I didn’t realize I was doing it.  All those paths led me to feeling empty again.

This realization of what we need to be happy doesn’t show itself in an obvious way.  I wish I could tell you that all you need to do is snap your fingers and decide that you are going to be true to yourself and miraculously all falls into place.  It’s just not that easy.  You will fall many times and at first getting back up is harder because you lose a little hope. Hope in yourself, hope in the process, but this is all a part of your personal transformation. You just don’t realize it at the time.

How do we get to a place of peace and acceptance of ourselves.  The answer is easy but the process is not easy.  Be present. 

In this very moment, be thoughtful, be kind, be conscientious. Be an example for those around you and ask for nothing in return. Let your acts of kindness be your own reward.   I love this line from the poem, The Loving One by W.H Auden. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me“.  Send out what you would love to receive. Send without attachment.

As the beautiful song from the movie Frozen says, Let it go.  Much of what we hold on to and analyze and review in our heads is unnecessary guilt and discomfort that we have already realized.  Why in the world do you think you deserve to feel that all over again? Let it go friends.

Do some spiritual work.  Having spiritual guidance and making it a habit of reading teachings to help keep you stay aligned and conscious of your actions is ridiculously important.

I remember when I was a young gal and I read out loud a spiritual quote from a book I was reading to my mom.  She looked at me and said, “well, that’s just common sense”.  Is it though?  I understand now as an adult, that this was in fact a defensive statement.  Parents don’t know everything but they want you to think they do.  We then pass this mentality on to our kids and make them stubborn creatures.  Thinking that you don’t need reminders, constant conditioning, moments that inspire you to continue on your path is foolish.

I remember reading a status update on Facebook one day from an acquaintance.  It read something along the lines of, “If you need inspirational books or quotes, you are weak”.  I really didn’t like reading that because I immediately personalized it but then when I went to his page, all of his statuses were negative and mean spirited and it all made sense.  We need moments to lift us.

The seeds you feed within yourself blossom. So if you are feeding seeds of jealousy by engaging in that behavior, that seed will rule.  If you perform acts of kindness, that seed within you will rule.  Be conscious of what you feed yourself. Be sure to feed the most virtuous seeds.

Be patient with yourself and be ok with being alone.  Understand that a lot of growth happens during these times of solitude. I certainly learn the most when it’s just me and my teachings or me in nature.

The beautiful thing that happens when you allow your true self to shine is that you begin to attract the same in others. xo

Inspired by a friend and our life talks.  <3

 

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I fight really hard. I’m a warrior.

One day someone told me about the ability of music to elevate your soul and spirit… I didn’t believe it initially.

They say to one who has never fallen in love, you can never convince them that such a metamorphosis exists.  But yet, we know it does…

I feel lonely, confused, lethargic, as if I’ve been running for days but I haven’t, not even close.  I’m just tired, I’m lonely on the inside and it manifests on the outside.  But don’t think for a second that I don’t fight….

I fight really hard. I’m a warrior.

Sometimes I feed my pain with poison and sometimes I feed it with music. Beautiful, harmonious, complicated, compassionate, empowering, noisy and chaotic music. 

There is hope.  I find light in music because I am open to finding light, therefore light opportunities present themselves.  There is light in many things, seek the light and let it in. xo

Thank you to my beautiful friend Alex for posing for me and helping me continue to pursue my art.

 

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Even when she enters hell, she will lighten up hell with the sound of laughter.

Vanilla Clouds - Capacity

Your tiny heart does have the capacity to grow if you surround it with light and depth.

In Buddhist philosophy, it is said that a person who is able to provide a community or group of friends with unconditional friendship, love and understanding, is skilled in the Base of Capacity.  How wonderful to be gifted with Capacity.  We all struggle with life’s up’s and down’s and this isn’t something you achieve overnight.  It is a practice, an understanding, a life mission to choose to be peaceful in times when it’s easier to join the chaos.

For you my friend, I wish Capacity. xo

 

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Are your irrational thoughts holding you back?

Are your irrational thoughts wreaking havoc on your life?

I was watching a show last night and one of the featured people talked about how he began to use drugs because he was unable to cope with his high stressed job.  One day while he was working, he had a panic attack in front of his peers.  He went to see a doctor, who explained that his body could not tolerate the drugs he was taking and the panic attack was his warning.Vanillaclouds-shells

After seeing many doctors and therapists, he said the best advice came from a Buddhist teacher who asked him an important question: Is all this panic and stress going to improve or change the situation you’re stressing about?  He said when he thought about it, something clicked.

How much of our time is wasted on stressing and worrying about things that we cannot change?vanillaclouds-shells2

In addition, to help discourage the panic attacks, the Buddhist teacher  suggested meditation.  If you are not familiar with meditation, it is the act of basically doing nothing. Many people confuse it with the act of controlling a situation but it is actually the opposite.  You release all thoughts from your mind.  You in essence give your mind a break from all the chaos that you take in.  It allows your mind a chance to refresh.  You breathe and you watch your breathe and this encourages relaxation.vanillaclouds-shells3

As a result, the man explained that understanding that his behavior was irrational and adding the practice of meditation,  has made him a more patient person, a kinder person and a better husband and father.  Please keep in mind, there is no need to become a Buddhist to adapt this practice.vanillaclouds-Shells5

I haven’t read a fashion magazine in a long time since I increased my spirituality.   Mostly because I grew frustrated with the failed promises that having the newest lip gloss would change my life or make me cooler. I’ve spent so much money trying to improve my outsides by superficial means, when the answer has always been to challenge these irrational thoughts.

Why does it terrify me to speak in front of crowds? Why don’t I ever feel good enough? Why is no accomplishment enough? , etc..

While a new haircut, a new dress or a new home can really bring us joy, if it’s just a band aid to cover up a bigger issue, you will be always be chasing the next high and that’s how these fashion magazines cash in.vanillaclouds-shells4

Understanding why we do certain things can be very powerful because we can then look it straight in the eye, acknowledge it and either accept it or work on it.  Having a healthy mind is so powerful because like the man I mentioned earlier, it can make you more peaceful, more kind and just a better person overall.  Most of us go through life allowing circumstances to predict our course.  Why not grab a hold of your life and make it have purpose!!  I certainly don’t see the downfall.  xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The many things that children teach us….

Children can teach us so many things… Vanilla Clouds Photography Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey show us how to still be amazed. They show us wonder, surprise and excitement.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey remind us that beauty is found in the simplest things; a bird, a rock, a puddle, a blue sky.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey remind us how to be content and to not always searching for the next best thing.  Sometimes, a pretty flower is just the right amount of joy.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyOne of the most important qualities to have is patience.  We are not all learning at the same capacity and sometimes some of us need a little more patience than others. Children remind us of that.

 

Vanilla Clouds PhotographyChildren are oddly braver than we are.  It makes us squirm to see a child carelessly cross a rocky creek but deep down we know that we want our children to live their best lives and being fearless is an important part of that.  Many of us have forgotten what it’s like to be fearless, to feel unstoppable.  Children remind us of that.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyChildren are accepting. They teach us kindness, encouragement, unconditional love. All very important things that we forget as adults.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThen all of a sudden, children seem to know more than we do. They have their own preferences, their own opinions and a sense of pride.  Somewhere along the way, as adults, we forget to be our powerful selves, we are afraid to be proud, we stifle our opinions.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographySo, next time you feel a little lost, spend some time with children.  Admire their curiosity, appreciate their fearlessness, don’t try to tame their excitement.  Then, relax….and try to be more like them. xo

Photo Shoot with these lovely little ladies, Anna Kelaiah and Selah Presten

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You have accomplished a lot in this life so far, take a second and allow yourself to receive that encouragement.

Always remember who you are and where you are, are different things. You are not stuck, it’s simply time for a detour. Vanilla Clouds Photography

During our time as little people on this earth, very often, we see a glimpse of who we want to be in other people.  I can think back and see snippets, quick flashes of images I memorized in my head of woman I admired and who I aspired to be.  Sometimes these woman were just illusions of what I thought it was to be an important adult and sometimes these woman were symbols of freedom and self expression.  Sometimes these woman were symbols of strength, discipline and success.Vanilla Clouds

If you think back to when you were a little child, I’m sure you can imagine what I am referring to.  I recall many times thinking while traveling on the subway in my teens on route to my internship at Time Warner how beautiful and successful some of the woman looked.  It was the peak of the 80’s power suit.  I was in awe of how  focused they were and how strong they looked in their carefully coordinated outfits and how beautifully their makeup was applied.  I would always think to myself, will I ever get there. Is that even palpable?  Then one day 10 years later, while working at a Hedge Fund in NY, it hit me, that I was that woman but I now had other aspirations… and thus, that is how life is.Vanilla Clouds Photography

Many times we reach points in our life that we have aspired to and don’t give ourselves the proper credit or pat on the back.  We don’t consciously acknowledge that we worked towards something and we earned it and so this is a moment to be proud of.  Despite the fact that we will have many aspirations in life, and some may seem nonessential to us as we become wiser in life, it is still important to acknowledge these accomplishments.  Vanilla Clouds Photography

Recognizing that we have grown and that we have completed something we set out to do strengthens our self worth.  Continuously setting new aspirations, will continue to polish us, to hone our wisdom and hopefully make us better humans. And the world could always use better humans. xo

Modelling my jewels is a dear friend Lauren Prince.  Taken at Gould’s Inlet, SSI GA May 2016.

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An act of kindness enriches you and me.

Not much frustrates me these days, but I have noticed in the past few months that a few scenarios have brought me a bit of unease.  It has taken me until now to truly examine what it is about this situation that was bugging me.VanillaCloudsPhotography

Very often, many of us are raised to be quite proud, but what is the real drive behind you being so proud.  Do you refuse acts of kindness? Do you refuse simple help from others? Do you shun or immediately dismiss advice or comments from others without even listening?

One day, I offered a very nice and kind friend a relief from her everyday life. I offered to spend a very tiny amount of money so that she could participate in something with me that I thought would help or at the very least provide some laughter.  She immediately refused but after my insisting, she gave in, only to cancel on me at the very last minute.   I was slightly frustrated but more so disappointed.VanillaCloudsPhotography

You see, when we offer to do nice things, it’s actually an escape from our own selfishness.  My doing a nice things allows me to work on my karma by doing something selfless and kind for someone else.  When I see an opportunity to do something nice for someone in need, it fills me with a very priceless joy.  This is a joy that no one can take from me because it’s a feeling and not an object.  Once we re-condition our minds to understand that how we interact with others is the real gift and blessing to them, we improve our relationships all around us.VanillaCloudsPhotography

The other question here is, why won’t you allow someone to do something nice for you.  Does this make you feel like you have failed in being self sufficient? Why is it so important for you to do it all?  Do you then feel indebted to someone if they do something nice for you?  Are you focused too much on the ego?  All of these are stories and labels that you have conditioned yourself to believe.VanillaCloudsPhotography

A little self reflection told me that at one point in my life, I was also too proud and refused kindness, advice and help.  For many of the reasons I mentioned above. How foolish!!  I didn’t know it all then and I certainly don’t know it all now.  We can always learn from other wise souls and it behooves us to be sponges to those who have learned their lessons a bit quicker than we have.  I also feel that  many times we are so wrapped up in proving who we think we are or want to be, that we mistake kindness for competition or giving in to the act of kindness as a sign of defeat.VanillaCloudsPhotography

From now on, let’s accept an act of kindness as exactly that, “an act of kindness”.  Let’s not look too much into it and instead, allow it to inspire us to also do kind things for others.  Re-condition yourself to acknowledge that giving someone a good memory or feeling is far more valuable than a physical object.  And once you really connect with this idea, you will begin to feel the goodness flow through you when you do something nice for someone.  You will really understand the value of it.VanillaCloudsPhotography

So, next time someone offers to do something kind for you, do something kind for them, and please accept it, it could really help their karma. xo

Photoshoot with the sweet children of Bethany Preston. Shot at Gould’s Inlet, SSI, GA

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If you don’t put meaning into your life, the result is, your life will be meaningless.

There are so many,  but let’s start with these.  Quotes or reads from my 2015 studies that have influenced me and shown me a light along my path.  🙂  Happy New Year 2016!!

The blog title is my number 1 quote because although very simple, it’s also very deep.

  1. If you don’t put meaning into your life, the result is, your life will have no meaning.  The only way your life will have satisfying moments is if you seek to do things and spend time with those that feed your soul.Prop of Vanilla Clouds
  2. You are the owner of your own karma.  There is no surprise here, but also remember that the biggest importance with karma is intention.  What was your true intention behind an act.  Catching the flu isn’t the result of your karma coming back to get you.  It’s simply the result of coming into contact with the flu virus.PropofVanillaClouds
  3. People often meditate hoping that some light will go off and give them the answers they are seeking.  You meditate not to get things but to let things go.  Meditation is a way to let go of the baggage that we often carry around. It’s a way for us to have 10 minutes of non activity. It gives our brain a rest so that we can refresh and begin again with a free and less heavier mind. PropofVanillaClouds
  4. Often, our first response is to put someone down for doing something we don’t approve or feel is not helpful to the person. To really help someone or make progress in a situation, you must understand someone or something,  from the mind of the person and empathize with them.PropertyofVanillaClouds
  5.  Most of our lives, we feel shame and hide from our imperfections, feeling terrified that someone will call us on it and this discovery will be the worst possible thing.  The truth is, there is a big freedom that comes from understanding our flaws.  Once you understand, you can either embrace or improve them and that fear begins to disappear.

Model is our local Yogi and Dance Teacher, AshleyAnne Brown.

Article was inspired by the teachings of Ajahn Brahm.

 

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Simple Merchandise shots.

Although the intended shot was to be taken with the model, I snagged a few test shots of merchandise while I was waiting for the outfit switch.  In many stores, the lighting is poor, so you need to move things around and move yourself around to find the best shot.  If I were to use these shots in an ad, I would perhaps spruce them up with a bit of brightness and color.

Merchandise Group Shots

 

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