Tag Archives: beach

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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Learn how to be happy even when life sucks….

When I first heard this statement, I thought, what? and how?   Buddhist philosophy teaches you to be compassionate, to have empathy and to live your life in a virtuous, kind way, only wishing and bestowing the best on others.  I’m sure at the root of most religions the true lesson is the same. However, Buddhism also teaches us to detach from results and have no expectations.  So, if you are like me, this is a very hard lesson to learn.  How do you balance caring for someone but not being affected by them when you feel like they have let you down.   This has probably been my hardest challenge.Vanilla Clouds

It’s certainly not an easy thing to do.  The other day, I was reading a story about a very well known actor who said he suffers from depression.  He said his issue is that he has a lot of empathy for others and finds himself immersed unwittingly in their issues and feels overwhelmed by their sadness. How awful 🙁 He said he over analyzes everything and this mentally wares him down.  Sound familiar?  Similar to my last blog post, the quote I heard a few weeks ago helped me put this whole scenario in a bit of perspective.  This is no easy task especially for someone who suffers from clinical depression but every little bit helps.  Post this sticky someplace where you can see it!

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” Learn to separate the mind from the difficulty that surrounds it” .

This is something I have to practice every day so that I can stay focused and determined.  I love how there are hidden answers (or maybe not so hidden) to our concerns and issues all around us, we only need to be present and aware and find that motivation to be better. xoVanilla Clouds

Vanilla CloudsAbove are some images I took this past weekend at St. Augustine beach while my bf was playing in a volleyball tournament.  Thanks to my anonymous models 🙂 xo

 

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I pray that I never forget how good it makes me feel to champion others.

Planted goodness is the only thing that you can take with you wherever you go.  No one can take the good deeds you do away from your heart.  Let them enrich you.

The other day while I was in this Barre Toning class that I recently became obsessed with, I remember feeling out of sorts.  Working out is one of  my favorite stress releases and unfortunately, the weather has kept me trapped inside as my only mode of transportation to the gym I belong to, is my bike at the moment.  And my golden rule is, when the temperature drops below 45 degrees, it’s officially too cold for this lady to ride her bike!  Actually, it’s not even the temperature that is the issue, it’s really the wind against my face that becomes intolerable.Vanilla Clouds Note Card

Anyhow,…I digress.  The new studio I enrolled in just for these classes, happens to be about 50 feet from my apartment, so, it’s quite convenient.

I actually haven’t taken a class in while.  I am ok doing free style dance moves but when you ask me to count and move and step at the same time, something in my body goes wrong.  So, as usual,  my uncoordinated butt was having a hard time following the routines and to boot, I’m blessed with the sweat gene, meaning I sweat more than anyone in the class within the first 5 minutes of even starting. Lovely!Vanilla Clouds The Fall NC

Despite what seems like me complaining, I actually really enjoyed the class and it certainly kicked my butt.  I kept to myself since I really didn’t know anyone and as I walked out, this older woman who was way more coordinated than I was, tapped my shoulder and said, your hair looks so beautiful, I couldn’t help but stare at it since I was sitting behind you.  Meanwhile, my hair was in a bun but the Buddhist teacher I listen to says, never deny a compliment, you do yourself a disservice.  So, compliment registered, check.Vanilla CloudsTransform Adversities NC

Now I know you’re thinking, that that little compliment doesn’t seem like a big deal but the thing is, even the strongest person has bad days and although they shield it with a smile or a grimace, many people are suffering inside.  I’m certainly not the strongest, actually, I’m a wimp and sometimes, I need a little boost just like everyone else who doesn’t like to admit it does.  This simple moment just reminded me that sometimes all it takes is a kind gesture to make someone’s day. It may require you to leave your comfort zone for a bit but it’s such an honorable thing to do.  So this blog post is about kindness.

I pray that I never forget how good it makes me feel to champion others.  I pray that I always remember how it pleases my heart to know that I made someone’s day just a little bit better.

Post cards above can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/VanillaClouds?section_id=16512533&ref=shopsection_leftnav_7

 

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One day you will figure out what you really enjoy doing, and you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

Life is funny.  You grow up simply being drawn to what you enjoy and don’t think much of it.  You may do it every day all day and never tire of it.  Then you hit the point in age where you start caring too much about what others think of you, and you desparately try to fit in.  It’s during this time, that you forget who you really are and what the real you truly enjoys doing.  You bury inside, what you need to be happy.  You forget it, it gets lost… Then because we replaced who we really are with this false persona, we attract all the wrong people and can’t figure out how we ended down this road.Vanilla Clouds

One day, it hits you, that something is missing…and you find yourself craving the things you used to do, like reading romance novels, painting with gouache, playing volleyball, running, doing makeup, writing, photography, etc.  You find that when you are doing these things, you are intrinsically happy, hours go by and you haven’t noticed, you feel revived, worthy, you have a sense of purpose, even if you are not that good at it, you don’t care.Vanilla Clouds

The hardest part about this realization is, you think to yourself, if doing this makes me so happy and content, why didn’t I start sooner?I am not sure my younger self would have listened had someone shared this wisdom with me, but I certainly would have wished I had.
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We spend so much time chasing falsities in life when we could be living our truths.  So, if you are that person who buried your interests away and have now re-discovered them, bravo! better late than never.  But if you are that person trying really hard to fit in and compromising who you are and what you are, then wake up and smell the coffee because living this way will never truly deep down inside, lead you back to that path of happiness. xoVanilla Clouds

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Converting Negatives into Positives….

There were times in my life when I  encountered someone who had such a strong sense of confidence and I will admit, part of me was quite envious. Sometimes, that pride made perfect sense to me, and sometimes, it was confusing to me because it seemed unearned and and kind of a non-virtuous pride.SONY DSC

I was quite Naive as a young girl, but I certainly knew the difference between working hard and earning something and getting things by taking advantage of a situation.  Earning it seemed the more noble method to me, the other was just plain lazy.

“Never dull your shine for somebody” Tyra Banks

I love writing this quote because I know that many of us have done this at some point in our lives, i.e., faded into the background, dulled our strengths so that someone else could shine.

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I’ve learned along the way, that we build character through challenge, experiences and adversities.  These experiences build in us a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of worth but I suppose they could also build in us a sense of entitlement, resentment and fear. If what  we experience is the latter, the key would be to convert this experience into something positive.  How do we do this? It’s as simple as being at peace with not getting a job you applied to and believing that there must be a better suited position out there for you.. or that you need to step up your game in interviews. See what I did?  I just made a negative situation something positive and now I can focus on the next interview as opposed to dwelling on this one. Maybe not so simple??  The idea behind this thinking is to empower yourself with the belief that you can personally change your behavior and thus receive more pleasing results in the future. SONY DSC

How can I convert this experience into something positive.  

This kind of conversion is evident in the drug treatment centers when the drug counselor is a recovering addict themselves. No one could ever know the feeling of being addicted unless you yourself had experienced this and so, how powerful it is to be able to say to someone, I know how you feel, but it gets better, you can get better.  This is what it means to convert your adversity to something positive.  SONY DSC

 

When you feel good about yourself,..you try even harder to do those things that bring happiness.

What I have noticed along my journey, is that it is so important to go after things in life, because even if you don’t accomplish your goal or you don’t get what you want, there is something about that journey that affects you.  It is up to you to convert it.SONY DSC

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When you refuse praise yourself,..you are discouraging your spirit and thus losing this wonderful opportunity to encourage more of the same.SONY DSC
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So, next time someone compliments you, accept it, say thank you and let that seed grow and bloom inside you.  Create a garden for more seeds to grow and bloom.  Be humble but confident in what you bring to this world…and quoting a friend of mine who gave me this same pep talk a few weeks ago,..Be proud, of what you accomplish, you earned your Stripes.

Images above were taken near the King and Prince Hotel and on the beach on St. Simons Island.

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Escaping the prison you created….

I am committed to having better days and some day, I hope to be a treasure chest of wisdom but as I’ve learned and shared in past posts, everything in life must be cultivated if you want it to be better or to continue on the right path.  However you cultivate it, is subjective to what truly inspires you.  But there are days when I create my own prison and don’t even realize it.  Do you? SONY DSC

You escape from a prison by deciding that you want to be there.  When I first heard this phrase by Ajan Braham (google him :)) I thought, what? Why would I choose to be in a prison and how could choosing to be in my prison theoretically allow me to escape?  Well it takes a lot of spiritual guidance to get to this point or even to understand this point.  I am still grasping it myself.SONY DSC SONY DSC

Scenario 1: I come home, seemingly in a good mood expecting my significant other to know where I am coming from mentally and what I would like him to say.  He of course is in his own frame of mind and says something completely different from what I want him to say.  Albeit, sometimes our partners can say things that are insensitive in a very innocent way, nonetheless, we take offense to it because we don’t want to see it in that innocent way.  It’s almost as if I am choosing to be offended, hence, creating my own prison. SONY DSC

Why would I do this? I asked myself this one day after a terrible fight with the person who’s heart I cherish.  All I could come up with was,..there must have been a bad experience in my mind that I am trying to recreate to keep me suffering.  It’s as if I am fighting against myself.  When things become difficult, our first instinct is to run away from this fight, to in a sense “escape the prison” because it feels absolutely awful.   But what if we are tired of running, then in this case, we decide to be there.  I decide to fight through the uncomfortable feeling. I decide to swallow my pride, push my ego aside because I want to understand why this fight happened.  You escape from a prison by deciding that you want to be there. SONY DSC

Never believe you have to be comfortable to be free.   There is always going to be a rough phase right before your period of epic growth. Much of life you cannot change, but you have a chance of being free if you change your attitude and this is something you can certainly change. SONY DSCSONY DSC
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The images above were taken at Jekyll Island, GA.

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Epic growth occurs in an ocean moment….

A couple of weekends ago was a warm one here for us.  I was able to go out to the ocean and spend some time shooting the waves. After every couple of shots, I would examine my progress and see if my camera focused in on a good part of the wave.  I can’t tell this immediately because I usually crouch down really low and shoot straight into the ocean, without really seeing what I am shooting.VanillaClouds Sometimes, this is a complete failure, but sometimes, it’s a wonderful surprise.  Actually, I shouldn’t say it’s a complete failure because without those failures, the successes wouldn’t feel as good and I would not be as inspired to continue striving for a better picture.Vanilla Clouds

At times, there are people around which at first used to make me a bit shy but I am getting better at phasing my surroundings out.  I understand that their curiosity gets the best of them sometimes and I hear giggles, which would have really bothered me a few years ago, but now, I just smile to myself when I hear it and carry on. As I shoot, I remind myself to really try to absorb the moment, enjoy it, look around, think it through and try a new way of shooting. Vanilla Clouds

That night as I lay in bed thinking of the millions of things I want to do in the future, just as I do every night, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.  I sometimes try to pack my head and consequently my days with so many ideas and goals that I don’t allow myself to enjoy what is happening right now.  As a result, it creates anxiety within me, which is not pleasant for me or for anyone around me.  I thought to myself, how can I be more positive and appreciative of the moment. Vanilla Clouds

Less is more. When I think back, for much of my life, I had the mentality of fitting in as much as possible but what I realize now is that when I had 4 distinctive plans in one day, I barely remembered what happened with each friend or event. I was so busy trying to be busy that I wasn’t absorbing the time spent at these events or with the people.  I now believe this is essential in having a continuous happy life, i.e., taking the time, as they say, “to smell the roses“.  Vanilla Clouds

When I got home that day after shooting at the beach, I reviewed about 50 shots of just the ocean waves. I carefully reviewed them, examined the colors, the depth, and I really allowed the joy that shooting nature gives me to fill me up and I found myself feeling gitty. SONY DSC

I heard this simile regarding this same idea.  It related the process of enjoying the moment to developing a photograph via the old fashioned process of utilizing Polaroids. in the 1920’s Polaroid photographs were produced by instant cameras and were developed in a dark room by placing the film in a series of developer liquids, then allowing the images to dry in the dark room. The best photographs were the ones that you took your time with and allowed to fully absorb the chemical process.  These photo’s were the ones that truly absorbed the potential of the image.  These photographs were the brightest, the most clear, the most rich.  I remember my dad had a Polaroid Camera when I was a child.  It was really quite exciting but I do recall there was a waiting period to see the final picture and any premature touching would disrupt the process. Vanilla Clouds

The slower you go, the deeper you feel. So for the past two weeks and now as a daily process, I remind myself to smell the ocean air, to listen to the waves, to feel the sand, the sunshine, the rain, the grass, the laughter, to listen to the kindness and let it touch me, to really listen to my friends, to take the time to feel the fur of the kitties roaming my community, to smell the food I’m cooking, to smell my boyfriends cologne while he is sitting next to me, to laugh at his jokes and most importantly to ignore anything around me that tries to steal my peace. Vanilla Clouds

I used to feel incredibly guilty about taking a nap on a beautiful day or simply taking some time to do absolutely nothing.  I have the wisdom and the confidence now to understand that when I feel guilty, I am identifying with negative thoughts instead of my potential.  The truth is, it’s in those “nothing” moments that the greatest ideas come to me.    When I crave a nap, I realize it is because my mind needs a refresh and that is a good thing and it’s also important that I listen to it. The images above were taken at East Beach on the island.

Below I got a big creative and turned our ocean into a Turquoise Caribbean sea, just for fun! Vanilla Clouds

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Meaning in life comes from what each of us do, to make it mean something…

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Meaning in life comes from what we each do.  Have you ever given this sentence much thought.  Although this seems like an obvious observation, how often do we actually take responsibility for our lives and what we do to enrich it.  So, that infamous statement, “Life sucks, and then you die” actually means, we have failed to give meaning to the moments, days, months and years of our lives.  Who shall we blame that on?  I love this quote “ we are all unique artists with the ability to create our own masterpiece “  vanilla clouds

This holds true to our lives as well. We are all human and we have our moments of feeling like we have been dealt a bad set of cards but the truth is,  we are only sad because we are holding onto what we thought our lives would be.  We are holding on to what we thought would give our lives value based on what we have read, or watched or heard since we were little ones.  vanilla clouds

But what if you let go and just forgot about what you have read and what you had heard as a little child…and you stop caring about what your friends paths were or your cousins..and you just decided to let your path be what it is and you truly relinquished control (I love this saying!!).  vanilla clouds

Do you think that if you let go of the way you thought things should be,  perhaps you would be more open to other opportunities, perhaps you would see or try things, you never considered and this might just be a wonderful fulfilling thing as opposed to living someone else’s dream, expectations, story. vanilla clouds
Live your own unique life, stop worrying about where you thought you should have been or could have been.  A Buddhist teacher taught me one day that guilt and shame only hold us back because they don’t let you progress spiritually or physically for that matter.  You can’t move forward if you feel like crap.  So let go of it…because it is never too late to start a new journey.

Photos above our images of a friend daughter.  She is utterly photogenic and such a joy to shoot 🙂

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