Patience is one of the best gifts we can teach ourselves and it is also one of the best gifts we can give to others.

This morning on my run, lots of ideas were popping into my head, which is why I love running so much.  I felt an overwhelming emotion of thanks but the thanks I felt was actually directed towards myself.
I was thanking myself for practicing patience over a situation that happened months ago.  The scenario had just popped into my head…I guess that was my subconscious telling me that I needed some sort of closure or reckoning.  It was a small situation I had with someone that really challenged me to remain neutral and not take the actions of the other person so personal and be offended. It was a conversation that challenged my ongoing conscious effort of having a peaceful, patient and compassionate heart.Vanilla Clouds Clearly it’s not easy, as it took me a couple of months to calm down and to realize not reacting was the right thing to do.  But I can assure you that had I reacted, I would have felt tremendous guilt because eventually, I would have had time to think about the fact that we are all fighting our own demons and although I may have a bit of a head start on mine, we are all not at the same pace or place in our journey.

So, just as I should have patience for myself in my growth, having patience for those around me is also important as they too are fighting demons. Vanilla Clouds

I don’t think anyone consciously wants to sabotage their own future and the relationships around them, but it is an obstacle some of us are fighting in our journeys.  So, when I really think about it, that small disruption in my day, was not about me, it was about that person and their ongoing journey.  The best that I can do, is to let it go and keep myself on my own path of progress.
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Choosing to keep someone in your life who continually chooses to make decisions that keep them in a downward cycle of life(when they themselves admit this) is another topic of discussion. Vanilla CloudsThe world is filled with angels, and some are strictly gifted in lifting others up.  It’s not an easy job and we all have our strengths, but at the very least, we can provide a bit of patience and compassion to those around us and just opt to remain quiet until we have the strength to respond in a better way.

Patience is one of the best gifts we can teach ourselves and it is also one of the best gifts we can give to others.

Images above were taken at the John Gilbert Trail in St.Simons Island, GA.  I added a cooling photo filter for a moody affect in photoshop!

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Less blame and more understanding…the answer lies somewhere in the middle

I have had a lull of inspiration, it happens…sometimes life challenges you and you struggle inside or outside.  Your gut tells you, it’s best to just wait to be inspired,  instead of delivering something that’s not authentic.Vanilla Clouds Copyright

Recently I shot a local yoga instructor, AshleyAnn Brown, who I shamelessly promote every chance I get 🙂  Anyhow, I had been waiting for the right post to support the images..and lo and behold, I came across this poem in my studies about compassion.  Reading this poem, challenges me to mentally walk in someone else’s shoes. Something, I am lucky enough to never actually have to do.

There are so many topics that come to mind when I read this poem. For instance, the controversial topic of immigration.  I certainly don’t have the answer, but I do try to understand how it could feel to be born in a place that you had no control of,  raised in a corrupt, poor, poverty stricken environment and when presented with a 10% chance of having a better life, even if it means you may not survive but in your mind, those odds are still better than what you are dealt with everyday.  Well, I have to say, that I understand the mentality of taking that risk when there is nothing to lose.  I also understand that we cannot support the constant in flow of boats and truckloads of people. I understand that many of these visitors don’t pull their wait, don’t assimilate, don’t contribute and instead bring down the quality of communities as a result.  Not all, but I do understand that this happens.  So, what is the answer? I sure as heck don’t know it,…but those guys who have it real cushy, who never really have to deal with this kind of thing because they are so detached to communities…the guys we pay tons of money to make the big decisions, should certainly come up with one.  As one Buddhist teacher I follow has said, less blame and more understanding.  I think, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.Vanilla Clouds Copyright

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.Vanilla Clouds Copyright

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.Vanilla Clouds Copyright

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Images above were taken by me on St Simons Island, GA.

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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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“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” Rumi

Recently, when I turned 40, I had come to a pivotal point in my life.  I realized that no one else was going to fight for that little girl inside of me, but me.  This took years of reckoning.  All the while, I was accepting mediocre treatment in relationships, whether they were with friends or lovers. It included that utter feeling of inadequecy when I would attend interviews.  I would sit there and feel like I was being judged by this person who knew nothing about me except for the energy that I was exuding in the interview.  I don’t blame them, I blame myself because it was me who wasn’t believing in my potential.  These thoughts were formed from years of feeling like I had to blend in, because who I really was, wasn’t good enough to stand out.  All of these misconceptions that I had developed in my mind were what I based all of my decisions and feelings on.propertyofvanillaclouds

Generally speaking, I figure, by the time you are in your late teens and after you experience your first real heartbreak, you probably have formed your core character, demons and all.  That said, I was 23 when I had my first devastating heartbreak, so, according to my calculations, it has taken me 17 whole years to figure out that there is no one in this world that is responsible for validating my self worth but me.  It has also taken me this long to figure out that there is no one who will fight for me, but me.PropofVanillaClouds

Interestingly enough, I was speaking with a friend of mine, who admitted that she hadn’t figured this out until her mid-50’s.  I asked myself, what is it that allows some of us to come to terms with why and what is holding us back in life before others.  What is it that allows some of us to embrace the issues, accept them and seek to fix the misconceptions we based our decisions on-our entire lives before this point.  According to this article I read a few weeks ago, the answer is partially humility.

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Humility: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble.  Humility is not just about being the opposite of a cocky person, it’s actually admitting to yourself that you don’t know it all.  Allowing yourself to be vulnerable.  Telling yourself that you don’t have all the answers and that perhaps you could benefit from some insight regardless of where it came from. And that this is all ok.

I think when we are really genuine with ourselves, and choose to face the truth head on, we can un-do the damage that was done to us when we were innocent children.PropofVanillaClouds

True freedom comes when ego goes.

In our early forming years, we are tested so many times and even as an adult, I found myself challenged with fitting into various types of social settings.  If we can admit that doing drugs is not our thing and that the whole concept of fitting into a scene you don’t even like is bullshit… When we can acknowledge that getting drunk to the point of disaster is not what cool kids or adults do and even if it was, maybe we don’t want to be that kind of cool because sometimes it just doesn’t bring out the best in us.  If we can admit that very often after drinking, we hate the way it makes us feel on many levels and that we are embarrassed and have let ourselves down.  If we can believe in ourselves enough to not need the attention of every guy or girl in the room, or if we can just admit that we aren’t into designer clothes that everyone wears,..or if we can give up the need to compete with our knowledge on whatever topic because that’s how we validate our inteligence,..I mean the list goes on, and on.PropofVanillaClouds

Quoting this article I read from Tricycle magazine…I misplaced the author’s name: Spiritual change is precisely a process that is bigger than you.  You don’t control it.  You surrender to it.  You don’t reinvent yourself, you face yourself, and then you must let go of everything you find.

Once you do this, what you attract afterwards,  will surprise you and may even change your life for the better. xo

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

Vanilla Clouds

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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