My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.

My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.  But don’t let this discourage you if this isn’t you because you are supposed to see people like this as an inspiration.  It is meant to create a solidarity between you and the person next to you because although your pain is different, it isn’t unique, for somewhere in this world, there is someone feeling exactly how you feel.  And, how amazing would it be to be the one to show them that despite all of this pain, there is light, there is hope, there is a smile.  A genuine smile that means what it says. We can get through this, one present moment at a time.

We are all connected and it is through our interconnection that we are able to learn and practice being better human begins.

….practice away xo

 

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Allow Your True Self to Shine.

“This isn’t me!”  This is more like  me thinking… ‘what would John like?’  What was wrong with me during that time I dated John?”

Much of our life we spend trying to figure out who we are.  We get lost in others, we want to blend, we want to feel validated.

I was sometimes afraid to be myself for fear of judgment.. But why?  Why didn’t I feel good enough and why did the opinions of certain people affect me more than others.

Many times I would do things to please others.  I would pretend I liked things I didn’t.   Half the time I didn’t realize I was doing it.  All those paths led me to feeling empty again.

This realization of what we need to be happy doesn’t show itself in an obvious way.  I wish I could tell you that all you need to do is snap your fingers and decide that you are going to be true to yourself and miraculously all falls into place.  It’s just not that easy.  You will fall many times and at first getting back up is harder because you lose a little hope. Hope in yourself, hope in the process, but this is all a part of your personal transformation. You just don’t realize it at the time.

How do we get to a place of peace and acceptance of ourselves.  The answer is easy but the process is not easy.  Be present. 

In this very moment, be thoughtful, be kind, be conscientious. Be an example for those around you and ask for nothing in return. Let your acts of kindness be your own reward.   I love this line from the poem, The Loving One by W.H Auden. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me“.  Send out what you would love to receive. Send without attachment.

As the beautiful song from the movie Frozen says, Let it go.  Much of what we hold on to and analyze and review in our heads is unnecessary guilt and discomfort that we have already realized.  Why in the world do you think you deserve to feel that all over again? Let it go friends.

Do some spiritual work.  Having spiritual guidance and making it a habit of reading teachings to help keep you stay aligned and conscious of your actions is ridiculously important.

I remember when I was a young gal and I read out loud a spiritual quote from a book I was reading to my mom.  She looked at me and said, “well, that’s just common sense”.  Is it though?  I understand now as an adult, that this was in fact a defensive statement.  Parents don’t know everything but they want you to think they do.  We then pass this mentality on to our kids and make them stubborn creatures.  Thinking that you don’t need reminders, constant conditioning, moments that inspire you to continue on your path is foolish.

I remember reading a status update on Facebook one day from an acquaintance.  It read something along the lines of, “If you need inspirational books or quotes, you are weak”.  I really didn’t like reading that because I immediately personalized it but then when I went to his page, all of his statuses were negative and mean spirited and it all made sense.  We need moments to lift us.

The seeds you feed within yourself blossom. So if you are feeding seeds of jealousy by engaging in that behavior, that seed will rule.  If you perform acts of kindness, that seed within you will rule.  Be conscious of what you feed yourself. Be sure to feed the most virtuous seeds.

Be patient with yourself and be ok with being alone.  Understand that a lot of growth happens during these times of solitude. I certainly learn the most when it’s just me and my teachings or me in nature.

The beautiful thing that happens when you allow your true self to shine is that you begin to attract the same in others. xo

Inspired by a friend and our life talks.  <3

 

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Even when she enters hell, she will lighten up hell with the sound of laughter.

Vanilla Clouds - Capacity

Your tiny heart does have the capacity to grow if you surround it with light and depth.

In Buddhist philosophy, it is said that a person who is able to provide a community or group of friends with unconditional friendship, love and understanding, is skilled in the Base of Capacity.  How wonderful to be gifted with Capacity.  We all struggle with life’s up’s and down’s and this isn’t something you achieve overnight.  It is a practice, an understanding, a life mission to choose to be peaceful in times when it’s easier to join the chaos.

For you my friend, I wish Capacity. xo

 

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The many things that children teach us….

Children can teach us so many things… Vanilla Clouds Photography Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey show us how to still be amazed. They show us wonder, surprise and excitement.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey remind us that beauty is found in the simplest things; a bird, a rock, a puddle, a blue sky.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThey remind us how to be content and to not always searching for the next best thing.  Sometimes, a pretty flower is just the right amount of joy.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyOne of the most important qualities to have is patience.  We are not all learning at the same capacity and sometimes some of us need a little more patience than others. Children remind us of that.

 

Vanilla Clouds PhotographyChildren are oddly braver than we are.  It makes us squirm to see a child carelessly cross a rocky creek but deep down we know that we want our children to live their best lives and being fearless is an important part of that.  Many of us have forgotten what it’s like to be fearless, to feel unstoppable.  Children remind us of that.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyChildren are accepting. They teach us kindness, encouragement, unconditional love. All very important things that we forget as adults.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographyThen all of a sudden, children seem to know more than we do. They have their own preferences, their own opinions and a sense of pride.  Somewhere along the way, as adults, we forget to be our powerful selves, we are afraid to be proud, we stifle our opinions.
Vanilla Clouds PhotographySo, next time you feel a little lost, spend some time with children.  Admire their curiosity, appreciate their fearlessness, don’t try to tame their excitement.  Then, relax….and try to be more like them. xo

Photo Shoot with these lovely little ladies, Anna Kelaiah and Selah Presten

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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.

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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.

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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? “

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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!!

 

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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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