Why do you think people are so disposable?

I remember the moment I realized that I had been disposing of people so easily. 

A friend of mine invited me to meet her and her new love interest on the terrace of a fancy rooftop in NYC many years ago.  She and I had spent many days and nights discussing the dates we had been on and the kind of dates we wanted to be on.  My friend had been on a date with this specific man a few times and had developed an affinity for him.  She was excited for me to meet him. I may have chatted with him for about 5 minutes and then I turned to her and whispered, you could definitely do better.  I loved this friend very much and her facial reaction nearly crushed me.  She was so disappointed in my superficial observation paired with a disappointment in my failure to find the charm in her date. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was also heartbroken because I felt like I let her down.

Where did I learn to base someone’s worth merely on a 5 min chat and their appearance? Where did I learn that it was ok to be so insensitive to anyone, no less to someone that I really cared about and respected? Why was this person so disposable after only 5 minutes of chatting?  Was it time to find a new way of thinking?

What you give is what you get.

It seems that I spent a lot of time in my 20’s and early 30’s disposing of men and equally being disposed by men as well. But, what could I expect.  After all, we manifest the kind of experiences we have in our lives by the kind of actions we send out.  To put it simply, if I have the mentality that no one is good enough for me, why would i attract open minded people who see the best in me.  It just wouldn’t happen and if it did happen, it wouldn’t last because a person with a healthy sense of self worth becomes really good at recognizing when someone doesn’t appreciate them. They won’t stick around because they understand it’s not going to help them grow.

Girl, you need to work on yourself!

As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of flexibility, compassion and acceptance whether it be a potential mate or a friend.  It took me a while to build the kind of characteristics that I could respect in myself and unlearn the bad habits and conditioning I had picked up along the way.  I dated a lot of superficial mirror images of myself that left me feeling very empty and disappointed.   It’s not fun to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “girl, you need some work“.  It can be dang scary but working on yourself is the key to improving the relationships around you.

When I finally felt proud of myself, I noticed that I started to attract a different kind of person into my life. I became more confident and gained the courage to say yes and no at the appropriate times.  Sounds like an easy thing to do but for those who don’t have a strong sense of why they are, saying yes seems like the logical way to get people’s approval, to be liked.  However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth because nothing is more powerful than someone who stands on their own not needing the approval of others.

Things I want to remember.

There are always reasons behind our actions.  There is a logical reason why I was so critical, mostly because I was extremely critical of myself.  I never felt good enough in any way and so, how could I see those qualities in others. Not possible.   With a little soul searching we all may begin to uncover the root of our tendencies.

As flawed creatures, the best that we can do is be better when we know we can.  I don’t want to be the kind of person who dismisses someone because they don’t fit a certain mold. I know now that the most interesting people I have met were those that broke molds. I would have missed out on so much if I hadn’t crossed paths with them. So, in closing, let’s promise to remind ourselves that people aren’t disposable, we aren’t disposable.  Let’s practice believing that daily. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Cried this Morning at Yoga.

For many of us, yoga was something hippies do. It was a strange practice we knew nothing about but as ignorance always does, we created this story in our head without understanding what it was.  We decided it was weird. We didn’t bother to learn about it.

The day I found out my father was sick, all my years of practicing Buddhist philosophy and yoga certainly helped prepare me.  I had an understanding that life is about impermanence and that we are all a development of our choices.  That we are on our own paths, that we can inspire but not motivate.  That we can and should always lead by example, make decisions with the heart but also not be foolish.

What it didn’t prepare me for is the sadness I would feel for those who didn’t see life that way….who never gained the wisdom to understand that the very thing they used to escape, is what kept them trapped and suffering. In Buddhism, is it called Samsara, the circle of life.  We in a sense trap ourselves by continuing to make the same mistakes that keep us miserable.

My dad, similar to many folks of his generation, used alcohol to escape discomfort, confrontation and emotion.  He protected his heart fiercely from pain and of course beauty.  For you can never have one without the other.  Our parents are supposed to be the wise ones. They are supposed to be the ones who teach us how to overcome, self worth, to believe in your ability to contribute to the world and how to manage life’s very hard obstacles…. but what happens when you keep growing and they don’t?

One morning I woke up and felt absolutely awful.  The air was thick, my head was pounding and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I had two choices…I could lay in bed all day and allow the sadness to swallow me.  I could give in to the pull to drench my spirit and as a result, drench my husbands spirit and anyone around me.  Or I could get up, take a hot shower and make an effort.  I could go to yoga and try my best to release.  I could sincerely try to receive the spirit of yoga which is really about letting go. Letting go of what you cannot change, but also believing in the power of compassion.

And so, that morning for the first time, I really used yoga to my advantage. I closed my eyes when it was safe and allowed the tears to fall down my cheeks.  I know what you’re thinking, how sad, but I can tell you, that it felt the exact opposite way.  With every movement and every exhale,  I let go of the need to save my father. For weeks, it felt like I was a dam holding a ton of water and suddenly, I was able to just lift the dam and the dam was me.   All that pressure, the elephant that had been sitting on my chest for a few weeks, got up and walk away.  The air thinned a bit and I felt a slight sense of relief. Enough relief for me to know that I had made some progress.

After that day, I immersed myself in prayer, meditation and spiritual practice for weeks.  During his last 2 weeks, I spent every morning with my father…present, crying when I needed to and accepting that this is part of life.  When he left us, I prayed that he had made peace with his shortcomings for most of us have some guilt we carry that serves us no purpose.

Yoga gives us permission to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings. It gives us an opportunity to pause, and give our minds a break from chaos.  Yoga made me cry that morning and has since made me cry a few more times and every time it has happened, a huge amount of pressure is lifted from my shoulders and I walk just a little bit lighter that day.

Wishing you peace to your heart. xo

 

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The power to affect your Faith lies within you.

What exactly does it mean to have faith?

A quick look up on the internet will tell you ” it is a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof ” 

My biggest challenge with this definition is that it takes the power away from me or you from being able to influence our future.  That just doesn’t sit well with me.  Can we influence our fate?  I would most certainly like to believe that we can.

While enjoying a delicious latte this morning, I read a wonderful Buddhist article on this exact topic that put into words what I had been thinking but could not quite articulate until now.

When our faith comes from wisdom, insight and understanding, it sets us on a path with fruitful results . 

I guess I am not a believer in blind faith.  I truly believe that in order to have any influence on our future,  we must have a history of putting into certain practices, that which would align us with a certain goal or desire that we see for ourselves in the future.  In other words, we have to do the work, be prepared and then pursue our goals.  Quoting the definition of faith from my text this morning  pretty much solidified that for me;” Faith is the confidence we receive when we put into practice a teaching that helps us overcome difficulties and obtain some transformation.  How wonderful to know that we can affect our faith.

Preparing for a presentation is what we should do, attaching ourselves to the outcome is not. So, the goal would be, to prepare for the presentation and have faith that we did our best and be at peace with that.  

This may be a difficult concept to absorb because coming short on something you have prepared for will understandably disappoint you but don’t let it derail you.  When we are steadfastly focused on one goal, we tend to miss the opportunities around it.   Sometimes, we focus on goals that someone else has set for us. Sometimes we haven’t really given much thought to what it is that will make us happy.  Being open to the possibilities brings us closer to founding out what will truly make us happy.

We relinquish any attachment to the outcome because if we know we tried our best, we must learn that that is enough.  

Ideally, if I can combine both of these definitions, I would say that having faith is being empowered that with proper and diligent practice, we have the ability to reflect change in our future and trust that God will guide us along the way.

Now this is something I can work with! xo

Based on one of the Five Powers, Faith. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

 

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Shelly taught me Self Acceptance….

Shelly taught me Self Acceptance.

When I was about 26, I worked in Fashion, I guess you would say a very superficial world (although today, there are many brands that are eco-friendly, conscious and responsible), back then, that wasn’t so much the case or at least not to my knowledge. This was a world that I thought I would love for it’s creativity yet to my dismay, turned out to be much less creative than I had ever imagined.  In College, you’re told to be open and inventive, the skies the limit.  I left my university totally unprepared for the challenges that lay before me and after 5 years of working my way up, I finally made it into a design office.  I thought this was what I wanted, but 8 months later, I quickly realized that there wasn’t much creativity in design when you are working for someone else and pursuing their ideas.  Nonetheless, while I worked in fashion, I met many personalities, some who fit right in and some who clearly were trying to fit into a hole that was a different shape.

Here I met Shelly. Shelly was in her early 30’s and she was a bigger gal who struggled to fit in with the average size 6 fashion scene of that time.  She was kind with beautiful wavy red hair and porcelain skin that flushed easily.  She always second guessed herself, and with every defeated word she let out, she convinced those around her that she had nothing significant to offer and so for the most part, everyone believed that.  I could see this was happening and I felt sad for her.

One day, Shelly and I had lunch as we did on occasion. She was about to have gastric bypass surgery because her weight made her very insecure and she felt that fitness routines were unsuccessful.  I tried to discourage her from having such a dangerous surgery as much as I could then one day she said, ‘Do you know what it’s like to not ever feel comfortable in your own skin?”  I did know what it was like, I had felt that way, not every day, but sometimes, in certain scenarios, around certain people. I just had no idea how to put it into words until I heard her say it.  At 26, I wasn’t wise enough to really understand what I felt was a lack of self-acceptance and I know now, that this is what Shelly felt.  Many of us learn to see flaws before we see strengths. When you train yourself to do this for so long, undoing it is a bit of fete.

Adversity: It’s not whether you will face it, it’s how you will face it when you do.

How can you avoid negative or bad circumstances? How can you avoid pain? You can’t.  It’s impossible to not face a negative or painful circumstance at some point in your life. Broken hearts aren’t assigned to the naughty people and in a competitive world, everyone has felt let down, hurt, sad, ashamed, less down or not good enough, etc.  The most important and healthy thing you will learn in life is that how you relate to situations will either make or break your day and for that matter, your life.  This is what separates us from each other and the reason why some become inspiring and some become defeated.  It’s not whether you will face it, it’s how you will face it when you do.

Shelly felt defeated at that point in time and I have felt defeated more times than I can count as I am sure you have.  Her response was to become skinny by having surgery so that she could fit in because she did not have the wisdom to understand that she didn’t have to fit into that unwelcoming fashion world. There was no doubt in my mind that if Shelly just made peace with herself, that she would have found another fantastic group of people that she meshed with harmoniously.  She didn’t understand that the story she attached to herself was probably someone else’s story and that she could easily change hers and that once she fought through the scary parts, it would actually feel good to stop pretending you are someone you’re not.

When someone asked the Dalai Llama how he got rid of his guilt, he said “I didn’t, I just learned not to let it weigh me down”.

Similar to guilt, pain, anger, resentment that is not dealt with, has a way of keeping us from moving forward.  In Buddhism, it is said that one is stuck in Samsara, i.e., the process of repeating the same mistakes, suffering and never learning the lesson. We keep hitting the wall instead of changing direction.  The worst part is that many of us are ignorant to this.

Understand your anger, sit with your pain, reckon with your guilt, learn from it and perhaps be a source of hope for someone else.  That would be the biggest gift you could give someone.  In no way would I ever say forget the hard parts, the sad moments, the challenging times because we need those just as much as the successes.

“to someone who has never fallen in love, you cannot prove that such a phenomena exists” and yet, we all know it does

I can only tell you that it gets easier with lots of reading and practice and then one day, you are just different and the weight on your shoulders isn’t as heavy.  You want to help other people get more peaceful because their pain becomes so transparent to you. You begin to identify the things that you can affect and you move on those and the ones you can’t affect, you try your best to not let them steal your spirit.  Things just don’t bother you as much and people sometimes mistake that for aloofness, not caring or ignoring. It’s actually the opposite. The more spiritual and peaceful I become, the more I care about everyone and everything but I also learn to not attach to expectations, not because I am going to be disappointed, but because I don’t want to limit the possibilities. I also learn to love but not control and to understand that sometimes I may not agree with what someone else’s doing, but I trust that it is their path and their lessons to learn.  Life doesn’t get easier, but you as a person get stronger.

So, Buddhism acknowledges that the world is full of delusions but it is also full of beauty.  My good friend is an avid reader and loves theology and he explained it in a great way one day to me. He said, “God is in everything”. He is in this computer, he is in this garden of vegetables, he is in this fountain that hasn’t been cleaned but still sounds so beautiful, he is in the bee that stings you but that also fertilizes the flowers, he’s in the bird that sings, this yoga lesson, this hard workout you push through, this refreshing beer, etc ..etc.  When you train yourself to see the world like this and that everything is actually a blessing, it makes the adversity much easier to bear. They don’t disappear, just easier to bear.

I don’t avoid or deny negative situations, I’ve just changed how I relate to them. It’s amazing what happens when you stop fighting all these things…not at first, but slowly, your mind clears, the anger, the hurt, the resentment, the guilt, it all starts to fade to the back as you learn to relate to it and you get more peaceful. xo

 

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Why couldn’t I be ok with simply being.

Thinking back… I don’t know that I had enough nights where I just sat in bed and did absolutely nothing and felt no guilt or worry about it.   I don’t recall having many weekends when I felt no pressure to be doing something else or to be somewhere other than where I was.

All irrational and insatiable goals that were destined to keep me in craving mode.  Setting me up to climb a ladder to reach a goal but when you look closely, the ladder is built with no end.  Therefore, the goal is unattainable.  Why couldn’t I be ok with simply being.

Your mind has a wonderful way of allowing you to forget the scenario but not allowing you to forget the feeling.  So, one moment you may be going about your daily life and suddenly this feeling will come over you and somehow you understand what it’s trying to tell you.  It’s sort of a mental reflection of your younger self struggling with something and it is serving as an alert,  that if you are not careful, you can quite easily fall back into an old habit.

For me, the lesson is to be ok in this moment.   Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your husband.  Be ok with not knowing it all and most importantly, receive these lessons that come your way because it is your own wise self trying to help you. xo

 

Photos above are from an older shoot with the beautiful and ridiculously photogenic, Lauren Prince.

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My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.

My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.  But don’t let this discourage you if this isn’t you because you are supposed to see people like this as an inspiration.  It is meant to create a solidarity between you and the person next to you because although your pain is different, it isn’t unique, for somewhere in this world, there is someone feeling exactly how you feel.  And, how amazing would it be to be the one to show them that despite all of this pain, there is light, there is hope, there is a smile.  A genuine smile that means what it says. We can get through this, one present moment at a time.

We are all connected and it is through our interconnection that we are able to learn and practice being better human begins.

….practice away xo

 

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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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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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