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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The difference between non violent protest and non action.

Ignoring something doesn’t help make the world a better place and according to a Buddhist teaching I listened to, I now understand the difference between non violence and non action.

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For a long time, I thought the best position to take was that of no comment.  Not because I didn’t have an opinion, but because I hated confrontation.  Then one day, while I was talking to my boyfriend who quite often brings up controversial topics,  I took my usual neutral position to which he grew flustered and basically said, that I couldn’t continue to ignore everything.  At that moment, it occurred to me that having no position isn’t necessarily the best way to be because people just assume that you live in a bubble and aren’t aware or don’t concern yourself with what is going on.  When that was in fact, so far from the truth because I care, actually, I care a lot.

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Is there a karmic result for not helping a situation?

When I work on some photo editing, quite often, I listen to either music or something spiritual depending on what I need most that day.  On this particular day, I listened to a spiritual talk called  ” the karmic result of not helping a situation“. Referring to many countries who are experiencing countless atrocities and being forced to flee their lands or convert to whatever the hostile side is demanding; one of the audience members asked the speaker,  “How can someone who’s ongoing nature and path is to peaceful, avoid being involved in controversial situations whatever scale they may be? “. “Is the answer to run away to avoid it? “

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Doing nothing to avoid conflict isn’t always the answer.

When I heard the response, it was as if another window was opened along the road to my spiritual path.  If you don’t stand for something, you will always be running.  Ignoring a situation that hurts others with the mentality that it’s not affecting you will almost guarantee you the karmic result of that same issue being at your doorstep one day.  I think it’s fair to say that in the most basic general way, every person deserves a chance at happiness. When that chance is taken away from someone, we all become at risk of it being taken from us.

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So, although the speaker did not encourage violence, he also did not encourage passivity.  

I could not even begin to suggest solutions in such horrific situations and I do not think there is any one solution to finding ways to help a situation like that but I certainly think about it often.

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In our own daily lives, just being an advocate for compassion can take a tiny bit of anger out of a conversation and create the scenario for a more open mind.  As we all know, the result of these hostile situations has created a domino effect in the migration of millions of displaced families to our own lands.  How would you feel if you were in the shoes of those families.  I personally cannot imagine.

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So my big lesson that day was not to always avoid conflict for fear of confrontation but instead to be courageous and risk adversity and hope that in the very least, with having done my own research, I can properly support my position and be respected for at least having one.  xo

Inspired by the talks of Ajahn Brahm.

Images above are of our local yogi, AshleyAnne Brown.

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I would rather have 10 solid followers than a 1,000 followers who really aren’t inspired by my work.

I would never want to be a celebrity because although most actors crave attention, it’s the attention of convenience that is really what they seek.  Unfortunately, that’s just not how being popular works. Once you open the door to acclaim, you also open the door to critical acclaim but I don’t think anyone can be prepared to face the ruthless and uncensored criticism of faceless critics.PropertyofVanillaClouds

How can you be offended by someone you don’t know? How can someone who has values, ethics and morals that are not in alignment with yours, make you feel less than a human?  Yet, it happens.

Seeking popularity is nothing more than feeding that little child inside us that seeks approval or validation.   It’s quite sad but once you understand this, it’s an opportunity to be compassionate to yourself and to understand one another better.PropertyofVanillaClouds

I would rather have 50 solid followers than a 1,000 followers who really aren’t inspired by my work.  

Have you noticed that people who have a healthy sense of self worth seldom criticize others. It seems to me that those who have wise and rational well thought out points rarely comment or speak out negatively because they are content in their truth and as a result do not feel the need to defend a point or criticize others.

If you practice the principle of being what you seek, you understand that your vibe attracts your tribe, as they say.  Once you are true to yourself, instead of trying to please the false sense of who you are, you will attract people who share your values and life becomes more harmonious.  Who is the real you? PropertyofVanillaClouds

It’s interesting, because when I was younger I thought those who didn’t fight back were weak and now I understand how strong taking the high road really is.  When you engage in any kind of hurtful battle, no one wins and you enable and continue the behavior.  In addition, that negativity stays with you and if you continue with this behavior, you eventually become desensitized to it.

It’s quite sad because from my own observations, those who criticize and engage in hurtful words or behavior are really quite lost inside. I imagine it to be like a maze, you enter into a certain behavior and when you look back, there is no clear path on how you got to this point or how you can go back.  You forget what it’s like to be anything other than the person you are and the idea of change is incredibly overwhelming.  So you stick to your destructive behavior. PropertyofVanillaClouds

As an artist, I understand that craving for attention.  It’s almost if not entirely a form of narcissism since an artist is obsessed with sharing their point of view because they feel it can transform or inspire you.

But after listening to a recent Buddhist lecture titled “Putting meaning into your life” by Ajahn Brahm, I feel a little better about this whole idea.  If the intention of what you share is because you care and it actually helps someone, then you have succeeded at compassion even if it’s one human at a time.  So, even if I have inspired one person in my lifetime and it’s helped them in some way, I am comfortable with that.  So yes, I am an artist and I quite possibly may be a narcissist. xo

Images above are of our local Yogi, AshleyAnne Brown shot at Goulds Inlet, here on SSI, GA.

 

 

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Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will.vanillaclouds

Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. vanilla clouds

Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you ears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…vanilla clouds

” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others,vanilla Clouds

but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.–Neil Simon

Model above is our local beauty, Lauren Prince. I am available for shoots, please contact me at Josefina@vanillaclouds.com

Also, check out my jewelry in my Vanilla clouds Etsy Shop or click on the shop tab on my page here 🙂 xo

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Honoring our personal gifts….

Ever thought to yourself, why would anyone work at a cancer clinic and face the inevitable imagined daily sadness one must feel knowing some relationships we build will eventually end at least in the physical form.Vanilla Clouds

Ever thought how someone could work with mentally handicapped children.  Caring for their simple needs as well as their not so simple needs all the while treating them as though they were completely capable.  How hard it is to disguise the sadness in your eyes.  I for sure am not good at this but I recognize the strength in those that are.Vanilla Clouds

Ever wondered how hard it is to be a drug counselor or therapist.  To always find the fine line between support and enabling.  The patience it must take to constantly remain neutral when someone slips and falls off the wagon, as they say.  To practice non judgement and to continue to deliver a strong methodology as well as show empathy. To keep yourself afloat when at times, the stress of their problems overwhelms you and challenges your own personal discipline.

Even the simple task as being a good and supportive friend is no easy job.  To put your own thoughts and needs aside and allow someone else’s world to be your own, even for just a minute, is not easy.Vanilla Clouds

People who are really good at these roles understand that you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and hone the ability to see yourself, the way they would and need to see you so that you can identify how you can help them.  Complex… It’s a big challenge and certainly an unselfish challenge.  To understand what a cancer patient, an addict, a depressed person needs to see in order to grasp even a little hope in your eyes requires a strong human and emotional connection.  It’s quite a beautiful ability.  Seeing yourself  in their shoes, is also an opportunity for you to be humbled and perhaps appreciate the blessings in your own life.Vanilla Clouds

Many many times,  when I was less wise…I often thought to myself ….why would anyone choose to do such a hopeless, and at times, unbearably sad job.  Then I read an article one day which put into words what we all probably already know.  We all have gifts and those who take on these hard jobs, do those jobs, because they can. It is a gift to be able to walk the fine line between detachment and empathy/compassion and if this is your gift, it behooves you to share it.  It doesn’t mean that you are indestructible, for all of us need to feed our souls and refuel, it is part of honoring ourselves and our gifts. xo

Images above are of a shoot I did with Chibuzoa Aguocha and she is modeling some of my jewelry 🙂 visit my shop section to see the latest jewels I’ve made xo

 

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To be at peace in the center of the storm will be one of your biggest challenges as a learning Baby Buddha.

To be at peace in the center of the storm will be one of your biggest challenges as a learning Baby Buddha.  But how wonderful will it be to be your own beautiful light source and how even more wonderful if you could shine bright enough to help illuminate the way for others, and all of those struggling baby Buddhas around you.

A few tips inspired by my trusty source Ajahn Brahm to help get you to peace. 🙂

1. There will always be something not right, that’s why you have to accept yourself faults and all right now.  It’s the only way to move forward. Vanilla Clouds

2. Lose the guilt.  I personally found so much relief when I read that holding guilt within you is what holds you back because you keep reliving the situation which really serves no purpose but cause you more suffering.  Let it go, and focus on being better and making better decisions.Vanilla Clouds

3. Don’t go through life with a mental scorecard.  Through our lives, we are influenced and conditioned by our surroundings and sometimes we do things out of character, or to blend in or out of fear and insecurity.  This is not who you are, so, don’t mix your performance with your identity.  I love this!!!  My mistakes are not me!Vanilla Clouds

4. Be realistic with yourself.  Most people will not succeed without hard work and those who seem to be succeeding at every thing, well, let’s just say, nothing is as it seems.  Remember, life is about perspective.  No one’s life is perfect, but those who succeed at finding peace, find the balance in life and take the good with the not so good. We all have blessings, but don’t expect to hit a home run if you have never played ball.  It is when you ask from life what you know in your heart it cannot give you, that you will suffer.  Search inside, I am sure you will find a beautiful blessing and put it to some good use!Vanilla Clouds

5. You will eventually be the biggest conflict in your own life that keeps you from succeeding.  Take a deep honest and humble look at yourself and fix what you can, be patient with what you can’t change and learn compassion for yourself.  Let all the heavy burdens go and live.Vanilla Clouds

6. And lastly, oldie but goodie…Beauty is not in the object, it is in the beholder.  When you start to see the beauty in someone else, in life in general, this is when you will see the beauty within yourself.  Practice acceptance and compassion for all life around you and you will develop a kindness and warmth for yourself.vanilla clouds

So, get to work all you Baby Buddhas 🙂

Images above were taken on Jekyll Island with a warm photo filter.

 

 

 

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There is a difference between an ally and a friend and some are both….

Recently I was spending time with a great friend, someone I’ve known since I was 5 yrs old.  Someone who I’m sure knows me better than anyone else in this world. Vanilla Clouds

It’s interesting how we have always been our own individuals yet we were able to bond and stay bonded despite many periods of pursuing our independent dreams.   2 little ladies, one of Irish background, one of Puerto Rican background who grew up with different traditions and different beliefs.  Yet even as little ones, we always treasured the qualities of loyalty, integrity and kindness and continue to this day. When you teach your kids these qualities, they become capable of forming beautiful bonds despite having nothing obvious in common with another person. I guess we should thanks our parents for instilling such qualities in us 🙂

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My friend and I spent some much needed time bonding on the couch and there was a moment when a really warm feeling came over me.  It was the revelation that there was an ally in the room.  Not to say that I have surrounded myself with enemies, for that could not be farther from the truth.  But there is a difference between an ally and a friend and some can be both, which I surely have in this gal.

So, let’s look at this closer.

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An ally knows you, the real you and would vouch for you at any given time.  Sometimes, an ally knows you more than you know yourself and it’s so wonderful to have someone remind you of who you are, because we sometimes forget.  Sometimes, we get lost in our own fog, in our own genuine attempts to compromise and get along with others, we lose some of ourselves in the process.

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Spending time with someone who has known you for a long time reminds you of the strength and will you had before life’s struggles attempted to slowly chip away at your naive little sunshine.

Sometimes, spending time with an ally, is all you need to refresh.  That beautiful, ambitious, driven, hopeful person is still inside you and sometimes, it takes an ally to to shake you up and remind you.  Sometimes your ally is your mom or dad, sometimes a neighbor, a teacher or in my case, a dear friend from your old neighborhood in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. xo

Images above were taken by me.  Model is Lauren Prince, my glamorous hippie, where Vanilla Clouds beaded bracelets.  Available in my Vanilla Clouds Etsy Shop or locally here on St.Simons Island @ Infuse Yoga. xo

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