Tag Archives: empowerment

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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You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Maya Angelou

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A couple of years ago, when I still lived in NY, there were many instances when I gave someone the power to upset me.  I was fully aware that my getting upset made no sense because this person did not even know me but yet I still could not deny that I let his words hurt me.  I was feeling a little bummed as I walked to the Monday Buddhist meditation lecture, but I almost knew that the teacher would say something, even if it was a little something…that would make me feel better.Vanilla Clouds Jewelry

Anyway, the teacher put a name to something I knew existed but could not identify by definition but I always felt was the case when a person acted this way.  What I am referring to is deluded pride versus wisdom pride.Vanilla Clouds
You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness. – 
Rumi

Wisdom Pride vs. Deluded Pride.

Wisdom pride, as I understand it…is pride based on wisdom.  For example, I know not to do certain things and may give you advice, not because I know it all but because I have done something similar and learned from my mistakes, and would if possible, like to spare you the hurt, pain and disappointment associated with this action.   You should feel a sense of pride when you have accomplished something fully knowing that you have done your very best.  Wisdom pride has the best intentions.

Deluded pride is the sense of entitlement one feels when they put value on things outside of oneself.  It’s the arrogant manner and mistreatment of others based on the illusion that having these “superficial qualities” entitles one to be above another.

The quote I have included below explains deluded pride very well.

‘I got this today,’ they say ‘tomorrow I shall get that. This wealth is mine, and that will be mine too. I have destroyed my enemies. I shall destroy others too am I not like God I enjoy what I want. I am successful. I am powerful. I am happy. I am rich and well-born. Who is equal to me I will perform sacrifices and give gifts, and rejoice in my own generosity.’

This is how they go on, deluded by ignorance. Bound by their greed and entangled in a web of delusion, whirled about by a fragmented mind, they fall into a dark hell. Self-important, obstinate, swept away by the pride of wealth, they ostentatiously perform sacrifices without any regard for their purpose. Egotistical, violent, arrogant, lustful, angry, envious of everyone, they abuse my presence within their own bodies and in the bodies of others. – Bhagavad-Gita

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The sum of me can never be measured by anything outside of me. – VC

We will never be able to control every aspect of our lives and plan every person we encounter.  The only way we can prepare ourselves is to be mindful of the above and to not let these kinds of situations ruin our days and nights.   When your self worth is based on things outside of you, you will always be seeking, searching, upgrading.  It’s a constant insatiable urge that you have to fill a void.  Quite honestly, that is just very exhausting, expensive and time consuming. I have been there.  So, when you encounter someone like this, try to have compassion because a life of insatiable searching for your self worth is a very sad, long and lonely life.  So, take a deep breath, send them a silent blessing and walk away.

Needless to say, I walked out of that evening from the meditation center with a little smile on my face. xoVanilla Clouds Beadwork

I carefully source my beads and put a lot of personal touches into each piece.  My goal is to bring something well made and beautifully styled together.  Each piece is full of color and beautiful energy to partner with your soul and possibly your cute outfit 🙂  

Images above were taken by me at Massengale Park on St. Simons Island, GA.  Model is the gorgeous Chibuzoa Aguocha.  Chewey is modeling my beadwork.  

Vanilla Clouds is sold at Infuse Yoga here on the island and I am also selling on Etsy in my shop.  All my work is handmade and unique(so no two are alike).  

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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.

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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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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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“When you want to hold on the most, that is the precise moment you most need to let go.”

The other day as I was editing pictures, and I popped open the news tab and quickly glanced an article about a celebrity couple breaking up and how the woman was hanging on by a string, wishing and hoping that something would change and her fairy tale would continue or begin for that matter.  I felt particularly sad for this woman because I remember being in Bloomingdale’s one day in NY with my friend and we bumped into this celebrity at the makeup counter.  She was on a popular show at the time and my friend and I were committed watchers and so, we tried to squeeze juicy information from her.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but I did get a feel for her kindness and genuine sweet nature.  So, I guess in a sense, I felt a bit more compassionate to her struggle when I read about her story.Vanilla Clouds

Relationships are so hard and I certainly had my fair share of them, many of which I suffered through because I was trying to deny what I needed just to have someone in that slot.  I think many of us become infatuated with an idea we get early on.  In our minds, we convince ourselves that this is who we are and what we need to be happy, to be successful, to fit in, to be cool.  Perhaps it’s a feeling that was ingrained in us from childhood that we are trying to vindicate as adults.  Some of us chase this for many years; I certainly did.  It’s like we are chasing the needs of someone else and then wonder why we can never find the source of our intrinsic happiness.Vanilla Clouds

Vanilla CloudsThe truth is, I wish I would have been more confident in who I was when I was younger and not felt like it wasn’t good enough or that it wasn’t cool enough.  I wish that I would have embraced every quirk, every unpopular hobby, every romantic story,  movie, song, poem, etc..that moved me.  I wish that I didn’t care what anybody thought and that I had chased my own intrinsic happiness.Vanilla Clouds

“When you want to hold on the most, that is the precise moment you most need to let go.”

I read this quote in a book a long time ago when I was having relationship issues(which was always).  I really wish I knew which book, because it’s a quote that has guided me through a lot of difficult moments.   Placing the source of your happiness on anything outside of yourself is never a good thing.  Needing something, someone, or someones approval, so bad that if it is taken away from you, it literally destroys your days and nights, is never going to get you to a healthy relationship.Vanilla Clouds

I don’t know if this particular celebrity chased the dreams and desires of her perceived persona and now finds herself with someone who probably could never have given her what she needed.  However, reading her story, did bring me back to those moments when I was holding on to someone or something that was just not right in so many ways.Vanilla Clouds

Vanilla CloudsIt’s never too late.  

As Maya Angelou said, “now that I know better, I do better.”  Figure out what really makes you happy, what makes your heart sing, what makes it beat faster.  I can only describe it as an elation.   I feel this when I am taking photographs, when I am at the beach looking out into the ocean or in nature in general.  I also feel it when I am spending time with Brian and we are biking through nature because I am getting what I need.  I think to myself, gosh, there is just no place I would rather be.  And coming from a mind that was constantly seeking a source of happiness…that is just a wonderful feeling that I never thought I would have. *feeling grateful*

Images above were taken by me with my trusty tripod in the John Gilbert Nature Trail in St.Simons Island.  The look of these images was created in photoshop.

 

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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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“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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