Tag Archives: Courage

Everyday you get up and do something you struggle with, you are winning.

“If you’re brave enough to risk…to temporarily live outside of your comfort zone for a short period of time, your big enough to win!”-Walt Whitman

When I read this line, I thought…wow, such a simple thought, but the reality is, that it’s not so simple to live out of your comfort zone.  We all have our crutches, our safety nets, our habits, our defense mechanisms to keep us in a place we built to keep us safe.  But safe doesn’t always help you grow, it doesn’t help you relate to other people and it certainly doesn’t help you learn to overcome your obstacles.   I am not saying that you need to be this huge adventure seeker, but having an open mind will at least expose you to new ideas, new experiences,  opportunities and choices.

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There are so many things that scare me and I have no idea why and I’m super embarrassed to even share some of them.  So, if you have ever thought this, please know you are not alone.  Every time we push ourselves to do something that scares us, gives us anxiety, makes us nervous, we are winning.  When I push myself, I also know that I am building healthy pride, integrity and self respect.  All of these things will help me face life’s challenges just a little bit better.

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When you do what you set out to do, that injured little soul inside you gets stronger, your inner score card gets more points 🙂

It doesn’t happen overnight and to be honest, new fears will continue to pop up as you continue to live outside of your comfort zone.  So, be kind to yourself and be patient with those around you because we all have fears we struggle with that we would never admit to for fear of being shamed.Vanilla Clouds

Sometimes I have found myself pushing a friend to take a chance that to me is an obvious opportunity but to them is very frightening.  I have to remind myself that we are all on our own path and we are all fighting our own inner battles.  I certainly don’t like it when I’m pushed.  It doesn’t mean that I will give up on that friend, it just means that I won’t attach any expectations to the advice I give her.  I will support her and continue to plant seeds of goodness, encourage her and empower her.  Every little bit helps.Vanilla Clouds

So, talk yourself into taking a baby step when no ones looking.  Push yourself even when your scared and I promise you, you will make yourself so proud and that is one of the best feelings to have. xo

Images above were taken by me on St.Simons Island this past week. The model is my friend Chibuzo Aguocha 🙂 I’m so lucky to have all these beautiful souls to pose for me!! More to come. xo

 

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When you stop being able to walk away from something not helping you is when you stop growing. – Ajahn Brahm

The most obvious example of this would be drinking excessively or taking drugs in excess and using these as escapism.  No one assumes they will become addicted when they first try it to distract themselves or numb themselves from the pain of life.  It’s the kind of thing that creeps up on you and if you’re not wise, will completely bewitch you and wreak havoc on anything and anyone around you.

However, this can also easily apply to an unhappy job situation, unhealthy habits,  and unhealthy relationships.Vanilla Clouds

When you are unable to walk away from something that is holding you back, you become trapped in your “cycle of life” or as Buddhists would say, trapped in “samsara“.  From my Buddhist studies, I have interpreted that anything that distracts you from your personal progress and path is a delusion.  So, the above would be considered delusions.  Now, it’s unlikely that my life will ever be clear of delusions entirely 🙂 but I hope to keep it as clear as possible so that I can continue to grow and be a positive influence to others.

Delusions: According to Buddhism, any unpeaceful, uncontrolled state of mind  is a delusion. All delusions are unrealistic minds arising from so called “inappropriate attention”, or thinking about things in a false way.whats left for you

It’s not always obvious when you have fallen into something that stops your growth.  I remember being in a relationship many years ago and at first it was very exciting and the relationship was actually bringing out a side of me that I never knew existed.  I was showing emotions and feeling this overwhelming love growing every day inside of me.  I felt validated that someone loved me and I had a new motivation to get up every day.   I completely understood the metaphor “lovesick” because you are nearly sick and up until this point, the only thing that had made me sick was food.  ;-/

When the relationship started to fail, I almost felt paralyzed.  It’s amazing how something can take a hold of you emotionally and it almost feel as if your legs were strapped into a roller coaster.  I know that some people become co-dependent to the ups and downs of that roller coaster, but I was simply hopelessly in love and I clearly loved the other person more than I did myself.  I was stuck and allowed this person to continue mistreating me.  I stopped growing.

lovenotcontrolLove without control.

It’s interesting what kind of wisdom and when the wisdom you have learned decides to show itself and just sort of smacks you over the head.  It may have always been there, but for some reason, we choose not to search for it.

One day, despite the heartache, it just hit me and I knew this person would not make a good husband, father, role model and at this point, I felt that I was betraying myself because his ethics and morals did not match mine.   If I had continued the relationship with this person, it may have not only stopped my growth, but actually made me compromise a lot more of myself and what I believed in.

so beautifully complicated

I am so glad that it clicked for me because despite children and marriage being so far away from that moment, I was still very sensitive to the qualities I needed in a partner.  I was also glad to get past that part of my life because that was only the first of many lessons I was to learn and continue to learn.  Emotional intelligence is so important.  In the most simplest terms, emotional intelligence is understanding your emotions and therefore understanding the emotions of others and the sooner you learn it, the better capable you are to make better decisions for yourself and others. xo

Images above were taken by me.  Model is Lauren Price and she is beautifully modelling my new jewels soon to be sold at Infuse Yoga Studio here on St. Simons Island, GA. 

 

 

 

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I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. – Kurt Cobain

Are leaders born or are leaders made?

Is there such thing as a natural leader, i.e., someone who marches to their own beat and does not necessarily seek to be the leader but does appear to be a leader to his/her peers because he/she has the courage to do what most don’t.

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or…a learned leader, i.e., someone who has been promoted because they have excelled in their job  or outlasted others and has now found themselves in a position of leadership, not always being qualified to lead but nonetheless must do it. Vanilla Clouds

I wonder about this question a lot…because at some point, one needs to decide whether we are complacent in our position of following or do we want to excel, grow, take a stand and risk not being liked.Vanilla Clouds I have had a handful of assistant roles.  Most recently, I was an assistant to someone that I respected greatly for his ethics, values and integrity but I have to tell you that the weight he carried on his shoulders scared the crap out of me.  Yet the most impressive thing to me was his ability to filter the stress.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, he was always calm and cool as a cucumber.  I admire that so much.  I have seen him put his foot down as well, as most great leaders must do.  The idea that people may not like what he had to say, didn’t phase him as he was not concerned about being like, only about the job that needed to be done.  If a leader has honorable qualities, you may not like him, but you have to respect him.   I think I could live with that, or can I?Vanilla Clouds

The question is, do you respect and appreciate yourself enough to be able to deal with other people not liking you and still push with full steam ahead.  Do you believe in your personal mission statement enough to ignore the grunts and hisses you’re going to receive when you are trying to share your vision?  Can you stay consistent and motivated until everyone is on board and you have made the appropriate changes to create the culture you need to be successful. ughh,..it sounds exhausting, (as my boyfriend would say 🙂 )Vanilla Clouds

It’s something I have been thinking about for a while as one of my challenges in life was being true to myself and what went along with that…despite it not being the popular choice and risk feeling left out or unappreciated.  If you can separate the emotion and personal feelings attached but yet still be compassionate, strong and inspirational, I think you have a chance at being a good leader.  No one wants a leader who cries at every event,..haha, so you have to get that in check but yet find the fine line between conveying compassionate and inspiration supported by strength, integrity and resolve.

So, just for fun, here are Forbe’s top ten qualities of a good leader from and article in 2012, paraphrased here.  Also it’s something to think about for the new year:

Honesty – When you are responsible for a team of people, you have to set the bar even higher.  If you set it, your team will most likely follow, and if not, you can easily weed out those that don’t follow suit.

Ability to Delegate – Trust your team.  Delegating is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you don’t delegate and spread yourself too thin, the quality of your work will be sacrificed.  Find the strengths in your team members.

Communication – If you can’t relate your vision to the team, you all won’t be working towards the same goal.

Sense of Humor – Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying.  Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.

Confidence -Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale.  Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling.

Commitment -If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level.

Positive Attitude -You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person.

Creativity – As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance.

Intuition -When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.

Ability to Inspire – Inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital.  Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work. 

Here is the full article! 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyaprive/2012/12/19/top-10-qualities-that-make-a-great-leader/

p.s…I realize the images above have no rhyme or reason with my blog topic.  I just love the images 🙂

 

 

 

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Getting through the chaos that is the holidays….

The holidays have always been super challenging for me.  While my normally positive disposition wanted to be happy and enjoy the excitement, this time of year usually brought up a lot of memories. Sometimes these memories were good and well, sometimes they were not so good.20141129_123655

It’s this time of year that we also think of old friends that we don’t speak with anymore and wonder where they are and hope that they are doing ok.VanillaClouds

In our lifetime, we share so many moments with different people at different points in our lives.  When I was younger, the thought that I would loose touch with someone that I loved or was super close with literally broke my heart and I just didn’t think it was possible.  Thus, it has happened.  I used to ponder, miss them, be sad about it but then one day I saw the movie, Eat Pray Love and I heard this quote and it has stayed with me and offered lots of comfort. If you have experienced this type of emotion as well, then I recommend you watch this movie.  Here is the quote and to explain the context, someone is explaining to the main character how she should move past a person she loved and missed 🙂

“Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. “But I love him.”  “So love him.” “But I miss him.” “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.”

and that is what I do now.  I silently wish them light and love..and I move on.  It’s worked for me and I hope it can work for you.VanillaClouds

How do you find peace, in a family of chaos?

A lot of my sadness came from  not having a significant other to share it with, but a significant amount of it came from within my own family.  I love my family very much, but I grew up in a family that was rarely at peace during the holidays.  I craved that loving environment that some of my friends talked about or what I had seen on TV.  There were years when I absolutely dreaded the end of the year because there I was alone in the same scenario reliving the same memories.  Gosh that sounds dreadful!!, but it’s true.

I finally got to the bottom of my well of despair and I literally got sick of feeling sad and hopeless.  I knew that I needed to change my mindset or I would never feel happy or find peace inside.VanillaClouds

“Just as the manure in your garden can enrich your plant, so, can the adversities of our lives make us wiser” -Ajahn Brahm

Getting through it was not easy but slowly and surely, I sought wisdom.  I read books, went to lectures, began mediating and emmersed myself in things that made me happy. For me, that was art and photography, for you it can be something else.  As long as the happiness it brings you is an awakening of something inside you, it will help you grow.  I tried to stay away from superficial things and distanced myself from superficial characters in my life.  Getting better takes courage and determination.VanillaClouds

When life hands you lemons…or shit, you need to learn to find its meaning and transform it! Because what is the alternative.

I can’t tell you that I understood the chaos in my life when it was happening, but as i grew more in tune with myself, and developed more compassion, some things I understood and other things, I was able to let go because they did not matter.  I embraced the adversities that happened in my life, tried to understand them, accepted them, did not judge them and slowly they dispersed.  It’s really quite amazing, once I acknowledged them, accepted it as part of my growth, these things no longer kept me up at night.  They no longer made me sad on long train rides, holding my gaze out the window thinking and staring at absolutely nothing.20141129_124245

You can’t change the world but you can change yourself…and the best part is, when you do, you have an affect on people.  You may not see it at first, but have faith that the little peace you bring into a situation is bigger than you realize.  After all, the true and most satisfying measure of ones life is in it’s ability to touch another’s.  Once you are in a better place, you are in a better position to support your family, your friends and anyone else you come into contact with.Vanilla Clouds

I hope this holiday beings you lots of blessings, I hope you find strength and courage to seek what you need to grow into a better human being inside and out. xoVanilla Clouds

This year was a blessing. It will be the first Christmas, B and  I will celebrate together in our own home.  It took many years for me to get here and I am super grateful I was ready to receive this beautiful blessing.  The photos above are of our trip to the Christmas Tree Farm 🙂 It was an amazing experience!

 

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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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