Tag Archives: inspiration

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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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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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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Doing what you want by your own rules….

Nothing in the world can bother you as much as your own mind.  I tell you.  In fact, others seem to bother you, but it is not others, it is your own mind. – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.vanilla Clouds

If we could only learn to control our minds and where our minds go when left unattended, we could quite possibly learn one of the most important ways to keep our peace on the inside.vanilla Clouds

The past few weeks, I was struggling with trying to relax.  I’ve had endless nights of tossing and turning and in some sort of dream/awake zone. I find myself going into some strange reenactment of a scene in my life and have no clue how or why I’m there.  It is so incredibly frustrating that I’ve almost dreaded going to sleep some nights.  Then one day last week, I heard this quote in a Buddhist lecture I was listening to and something clicked.

Separate the mind from the difficulty that surrounds it.Vanilla Clouds

There is a fine line between caring and immersing yourself into something that you cannot change or affect.   Finding that fine line is the key.  I placed this quote on a sticky and it’s now stuck to my monitor so I see it every day and it reminds me that stressing or worrying too much takes me to a place I don’t want to be.  I always thought being sensitive and intuitive to things and people was a great quality, but there is a healthy balance to everything. Sometimes, we are too sensitive and lose our strength in the ability to make rational and healthy decisions.Vanilla Clouds

Anything you want to change, requires a constant conditioning. But it’s ok, you are in good company, as we all have our little challenges we are trying to overcome 🙂

I got super creative and decided to do a self portrait sequence(above).  I’m at the age where I really feel comfortable expressing my creative ideas and not feeling self conscious about what others think. One other great benefit of getting older and wiser 🙂 Here’s to hoping you too find your inner power to do what you want by your own rules! xo

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What’s meant to be is not what’s meant to be. What’s meant to be is what you make it be!

How incredibly paralyzing is the statement, “What’s mean to be is what’s meant to be“?  When I hear someone say that, what I hear is, I don’t deserve to get what I want or worse, I’m too afraid to go after what I want, and so, I’ll just be complacent and hope no one notices. I will tell everyone that I actually believe I have no control over my fate and I hope they believe it because the thought of taking fate into my own hands terrifies me.  Sound familiar?  The next time you hear someone say that, you be sure to tell them….Vanilla Clouds

Nothing is meant to be, you make it be, your fate is not scribbled on some ledger.  Don’t accept patterns in your life that make you unhappy.  And don’t settle for living vicariously through other peoples happy lives.Vanilla Clouds

Find the strength to go through the ugly moments when you feel alone, hopeless and you feel like maybe you took things one step too far,…it’s when you get over that summit, that you realize that you have been settling this whole time and you will kick yourself for not taking charge sooner.  When you embark on the unknown, there is always fear, that is perfectly normal, but don’t let fear stop you. Vanilla Clouds

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No one is born perfect, we all have strengths and weaknesses, but the question is, what are you doing with what you got? VANILLA CLOUDSSONY DSC
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Photo’s above are a bunch of random pictures I took at this beach this past weekend!  I’m officially a creeper at the beach with my zoom lens :-p

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One day you will figure out what you really enjoy doing, and you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

Life is funny.  You grow up simply being drawn to what you enjoy and don’t think much of it.  You may do it every day all day and never tire of it.  Then you hit the point in age where you start caring too much about what others think of you, and you desparately try to fit in.  It’s during this time, that you forget who you really are and what the real you truly enjoys doing.  You bury inside, what you need to be happy.  You forget it, it gets lost… Then because we replaced who we really are with this false persona, we attract all the wrong people and can’t figure out how we ended down this road.Vanilla Clouds

One day, it hits you, that something is missing…and you find yourself craving the things you used to do, like reading romance novels, painting with gouache, playing volleyball, running, doing makeup, writing, photography, etc.  You find that when you are doing these things, you are intrinsically happy, hours go by and you haven’t noticed, you feel revived, worthy, you have a sense of purpose, even if you are not that good at it, you don’t care.Vanilla Clouds

The hardest part about this realization is, you think to yourself, if doing this makes me so happy and content, why didn’t I start sooner?I am not sure my younger self would have listened had someone shared this wisdom with me, but I certainly would have wished I had.
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We spend so much time chasing falsities in life when we could be living our truths.  So, if you are that person who buried your interests away and have now re-discovered them, bravo! better late than never.  But if you are that person trying really hard to fit in and compromising who you are and what you are, then wake up and smell the coffee because living this way will never truly deep down inside, lead you back to that path of happiness. xoVanilla Clouds

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Life happens in those in between moments….

I was listening to a lecture the other day and the speaker touched on how we all rush through things, multi task, whether it’s the smart phone, the tv, the radio, the computer.  It’s like we need a constant distraction in the in between moments.  We don’t realize that we are living our lives by simply rushing from one thing to another avoiding the present moment.  There is always a plan and a goal to get to, but we tend to forget that how we get there is probably the most important part of it.  Allowing ourselves to being present to the moment, whether that is enjoying dinner with a friend, a love or not needing to answer a million emails while you walk to the park.  Having that little quiet time, is so important to keeping our internal peace.In between moments Vanilla Clouds

It’s not the path, it’s the journey.

Now we have all heard this saying a million times, but do we really understand what it means.  It really is in the details.   While we are so anxious to get to our next meeting, class, or the supermarket, we sometimes rush through the most meaningful parts of our journey because we forget to be present in the moment.  Sometimes when I leave my apt to ride my bike to the supermarket, I see my favorite orange kitty strolling along the parking lot.  Whenever I see her, I stop and walk over and give her a little cuddle.  She graciously accepts it and I just feel so happy when I get on my way.  It can be as simple as that.  Animals of all things, teach us compassion.  If a little cuddle makes orange kitty happy, that’s such a little gesture with such a big reward, in my opinion.

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For you, it may be something else, perhaps you stop and grab a coffee and you overhear a conversation about someone who is going through a similar situation as you and it helps you carry on your day. Or you bump into someone, who really needed a friend to talk to, so, instead of rushing your hello’s, you stop and ask them, how they are doing. Sometimes, all someone needs is a kind gesture, a concern to help them get through something.  You may even overhear a job opportunity or a concert you have been wanting to see, while you sit and enjoy your coffee. Vanilla Clouds Vanilla Clouds Vanilla Clouds

When I remember, while I ride my bike,  I remind myself to be in the moment; notice the trees changing, the new buds, the new establishments, the wood burning smell :). You really do need to remind yourself, because it is very easy to get caught up in the “goal”. SONY DSC Vanilla Clouds

The images on this post are of the The Retreat Golf Course on St. Simons Island.  The beautiful colors made it super pleasant and easy to shoot 🙂

and here she is…could you resist her 🙂Orange Kitty

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It’s in those moments of peace, that we find clarity.

The other day, while I lay down on my comfy bed, as it does on most nights, my mind began to wander.  Sometimes the wandering is not a good wander, a consequence of perhaps eating too late, too heavy or indulging on too much wine.  But, sometimes my mind is still and in these still moments, I get a bit of clarity that I didn’t realize I needed.SONY DSC

I don’t necessarily think that these resolutions are obvious at first, it’s when you are lucky enough to have remembered them the next morning, that they become apparent.SONY DSC

Personally for me, my life has changed a lot in the last 6 months. Less then a year ago, I was still signing single on applications and was completely independent, selfish, frivolous and working a super intense New York City job.  There are and will always be some aspects of that, that I will love, but there are certainly many aspects of that, that I do not miss.SONY DSC

Saying good bye to your single life is kind of a tricky thing when you are older,..in a sense this is something you have kind of looked forward to your whole life, yet when it comes, it requires you to change and compromise and that is something your independent, selfish, single for most of your life persona, resists and can find very offensive.SONY DSC SONY DSC

I believe it’s during this time of change, that it’s super important to have those moments of peace and stillness because that is when you can receive the  most clarity.  I think everyone has fears that culminated from a prior experience and those experiences come to haunt you when there is a chance for you to finally be happy.SONY DSC SONY DSC

Going back to my moment of clarity the other night… I had sort of a foggy memory of a scenario with someone I cared for deeply many years ago.  I remember being in a park and waiting.. feeling uncertain as to whether he would return to meet me.  I remember thinking how awful it would be if he abandoned me, if he didn’t return.SONY DSC

It’s so interesting how something like this can have an emotional affect on you, years later.  Then all of a sudden, it made sense.  My subconscious is trying to tell me something.  If I don’t trust and believe that I deserve what is in front of me, who will?  Developing healthy and loving feelings about ourselves is so important to succeed in life.SONY DSC

We protect ourselves, put guards up, create walls and barriers because we don’t want to get hurt.  It’s a way of protecting ourselves but it’s also self sabotage.  So, find those moments of peace, so that you can get clarity to help you appreciate, enjoy and honor what is around you.  I am the happiest I have ever been and that little bit of clarity is what I needed to remind me of that. 🙂

Images above are of my mini photo shoot for my “Thank You” note cards.

You can find here:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/215338239/thank-you-cards-in-an-unconventional-way?ref=shop_home_active_3

 

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