The difference between non violent protest and non action.

Ignoring something doesn’t help make the world a better place and according to a Buddhist teaching I listened to, I now understand the difference between non violence and non action.

PropVanillaClouds

For a long time, I thought the best position to take was that of no comment.  Not because I didn’t have an opinion, but because I hated confrontation.  Then one day, while I was talking to my boyfriend who quite often brings up controversial topics,  I took my usual neutral position to which he grew flustered and basically said, that I couldn’t continue to ignore everything.  At that moment, it occurred to me that having no position isn’t necessarily the best way to be because people just assume that you live in a bubble and aren’t aware or don’t concern yourself with what is going on.  When that was in fact, so far from the truth because I care, actually, I care a lot.

PropVanillaClouds

Is there a karmic result for not helping a situation?

When I work on some photo editing, quite often, I listen to either music or something spiritual depending on what I need most that day.  On this particular day, I listened to a spiritual talk called  ” the karmic result of not helping a situation“. Referring to many countries who are experiencing countless atrocities and being forced to flee their lands or convert to whatever the hostile side is demanding; one of the audience members asked the speaker,  “How can someone who’s ongoing nature and path is to peaceful, avoid being involved in controversial situations whatever scale they may be? “. “Is the answer to run away to avoid it? “

PropVanillaClouds

Doing nothing to avoid conflict isn’t always the answer.

When I heard the response, it was as if another window was opened along the road to my spiritual path.  If you don’t stand for something, you will always be running.  Ignoring a situation that hurts others with the mentality that it’s not affecting you will almost guarantee you the karmic result of that same issue being at your doorstep one day.  I think it’s fair to say that in the most basic general way, every person deserves a chance at happiness. When that chance is taken away from someone, we all become at risk of it being taken from us.

PropVanillaClouds

So, although the speaker did not encourage violence, he also did not encourage passivity.  

I could not even begin to suggest solutions in such horrific situations and I do not think there is any one solution to finding ways to help a situation like that but I certainly think about it often.

PropVanillaClouds

In our own daily lives, just being an advocate for compassion can take a tiny bit of anger out of a conversation and create the scenario for a more open mind.  As we all know, the result of these hostile situations has created a domino effect in the migration of millions of displaced families to our own lands.  How would you feel if you were in the shoes of those families.  I personally cannot imagine.

PropVanillaClouds

So my big lesson that day was not to always avoid conflict for fear of confrontation but instead to be courageous and risk adversity and hope that in the very least, with having done my own research, I can properly support my position and be respected for at least having one.  xo

Inspired by the talks of Ajahn Brahm.

Images above are of our local yogi, AshleyAnne Brown.

Share

I would rather have 10 solid followers than a 1,000 followers who really aren’t inspired by my work.

I would never want to be a celebrity because although most actors crave attention, it’s the attention of convenience that is really what they seek.  Unfortunately, that’s just not how being popular works. Once you open the door to acclaim, you also open the door to critical acclaim but I don’t think anyone can be prepared to face the ruthless and uncensored criticism of faceless critics.PropertyofVanillaClouds

How can you be offended by someone you don’t know? How can someone who has values, ethics and morals that are not in alignment with yours, make you feel less than a human?  Yet, it happens.

Seeking popularity is nothing more than feeding that little child inside us that seeks approval or validation.   It’s quite sad but once you understand this, it’s an opportunity to be compassionate to yourself and to understand one another better.PropertyofVanillaClouds

I would rather have 50 solid followers than a 1,000 followers who really aren’t inspired by my work.  

Have you noticed that people who have a healthy sense of self worth seldom criticize others. It seems to me that those who have wise and rational well thought out points rarely comment or speak out negatively because they are content in their truth and as a result do not feel the need to defend a point or criticize others.

If you practice the principle of being what you seek, you understand that your vibe attracts your tribe, as they say.  Once you are true to yourself, instead of trying to please the false sense of who you are, you will attract people who share your values and life becomes more harmonious.  Who is the real you? PropertyofVanillaClouds

It’s interesting, because when I was younger I thought those who didn’t fight back were weak and now I understand how strong taking the high road really is.  When you engage in any kind of hurtful battle, no one wins and you enable and continue the behavior.  In addition, that negativity stays with you and if you continue with this behavior, you eventually become desensitized to it.

It’s quite sad because from my own observations, those who criticize and engage in hurtful words or behavior are really quite lost inside. I imagine it to be like a maze, you enter into a certain behavior and when you look back, there is no clear path on how you got to this point or how you can go back.  You forget what it’s like to be anything other than the person you are and the idea of change is incredibly overwhelming.  So you stick to your destructive behavior. PropertyofVanillaClouds

As an artist, I understand that craving for attention.  It’s almost if not entirely a form of narcissism since an artist is obsessed with sharing their point of view because they feel it can transform or inspire you.

But after listening to a recent Buddhist lecture titled “Putting meaning into your life” by Ajahn Brahm, I feel a little better about this whole idea.  If the intention of what you share is because you care and it actually helps someone, then you have succeeded at compassion even if it’s one human at a time.  So, even if I have inspired one person in my lifetime and it’s helped them in some way, I am comfortable with that.  So yes, I am an artist and I quite possibly may be a narcissist. xo

Images above are of our local Yogi, AshleyAnne Brown shot at Goulds Inlet, here on SSI, GA.

 

 

Share

Shop local today and spread the love!!!

Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will.vanillaclouds

Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. vanilla clouds

Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you ears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…vanilla clouds

” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others,vanilla Clouds

but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.–Neil Simon

Model above is our local beauty, Lauren Prince. I am available for shoots, please contact me at Josefina@vanillaclouds.com

Also, check out my jewelry in my Vanilla clouds Etsy Shop or click on the shop tab on my page here 🙂 xo

Share

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 🙂

Vanilla Clouds

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.

vanilla Clouds

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.

Vanilla Clouds

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

Share

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.

Everydayyougetup

 

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.

Vanilla Clouds

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

 

Share

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. 

 

 

 

Share

I don’t want what’s for her, I don’t want what’s for him, I want what’s for me.

We are all faced with situations or scenarios that sort of remind us of something we may have wanted or dreamed about and perhaps let go or didn’t pursue hard enough.  Sometimes, we really can’t control it but then…sometimes we can.Vanilla Clouds

I don’t want what’s for her, I don’t want what’s for him, I want what’s for me.

And the only way you can find what is for you, is if you work hard for it, work through the obstacles and then work past the suffering and setbacks. You have got to dig deep inside and learn who you are, why you are, what makes you tick and what makes you power down. Vanilla Clouds

“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.” -Lionel Shriver.

The problem with coveting the dreams of others is precisely that….they are the dreams of others.   Someone else’s dreams will never satisfy you deep down.  Being blinded by what society feeds you as important, will also never satisfy you deep down. Vanilla Clouds

“The thought of being whoever I want is a terrifying thing, because I have only ever been who everyone has wanted me to be.” – Dianna Hardy

The only way to really find that intrinsic happiness is to be true to yourself, find what you need to be happy and go after it without worrying what others might think.  It may take your whole life but at least you will live your life fighting for something that really matters to you…something that makes you grow inside a little bit each day. xo Vanilla Clouds

 Pictures above were taken at the John Gilbert Trail on St.Simons Island.  Still working from a group of selfies I shot with a new tripod I was trying out.  Getting creative and trying new things!!

 

Share

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.
Vanilla Clouds

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!

Share

“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.

 

Share

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.

Share