Why couldn’t I be ok with simply being.

Thinking back… I don’t know that I had enough nights where I just sat in bed and did absolutely nothing and felt no guilt or worry about it.   I don’t recall having many weekends when I felt no pressure to be doing something else or to be somewhere other than where I was.

All irrational and insatiable goals that were destined to keep me in craving mode.  Setting me up to climb a ladder to reach a goal but when you look closely, the ladder is built with no end.  Therefore, the goal is unattainable.  Why couldn’t I be ok with simply being.

Your mind has a wonderful way of allowing you to forget the scenario but not allowing you to forget the feeling.  So, one moment you may be going about your daily life and suddenly this feeling will come over you and somehow you understand what it’s trying to tell you.  It’s sort of a mental reflection of your younger self struggling with something and it is serving as an alert,  that if you are not careful, you can quite easily fall back into an old habit.

For me, the lesson is to be ok in this moment.   Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your husband.  Be ok with not knowing it all and most importantly, receive these lessons that come your way because it is your own wise self trying to help you. xo

 

Photos above are from an older shoot with the beautiful and ridiculously photogenic, Lauren Prince.

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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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Are your irrational thoughts holding you back?

Are your irrational thoughts wreaking havoc on your life?

I was watching a show last night and one of the featured people talked about how he began to use drugs because he was unable to cope with his high stressed job.  One day while he was working, he had a panic attack in front of his peers.  He went to see a doctor, who explained that his body could not tolerate the drugs he was taking and the panic attack was his warning.Vanillaclouds-shells

After seeing many doctors and therapists, he said the best advice came from a Buddhist teacher who asked him an important question: Is all this panic and stress going to improve or change the situation you’re stressing about?  He said when he thought about it, something clicked.

How much of our time is wasted on stressing and worrying about things that we cannot change?vanillaclouds-shells2

In addition, to help discourage the panic attacks, the Buddhist teacher  suggested meditation.  If you are not familiar with meditation, it is the act of basically doing nothing. Many people confuse it with the act of controlling a situation but it is actually the opposite.  You release all thoughts from your mind.  You in essence give your mind a break from all the chaos that you take in.  It allows your mind a chance to refresh.  You breathe and you watch your breathe and this encourages relaxation.vanillaclouds-shells3

As a result, the man explained that understanding that his behavior was irrational and adding the practice of meditation,  has made him a more patient person, a kinder person and a better husband and father.  Please keep in mind, there is no need to become a Buddhist to adapt this practice.vanillaclouds-Shells5

I haven’t read a fashion magazine in a long time since I increased my spirituality.   Mostly because I grew frustrated with the failed promises that having the newest lip gloss would change my life or make me cooler. I’ve spent so much money trying to improve my outsides by superficial means, when the answer has always been to challenge these irrational thoughts.

Why does it terrify me to speak in front of crowds? Why don’t I ever feel good enough? Why is no accomplishment enough? , etc..

While a new haircut, a new dress or a new home can really bring us joy, if it’s just a band aid to cover up a bigger issue, you will be always be chasing the next high and that’s how these fashion magazines cash in.vanillaclouds-shells4

Understanding why we do certain things can be very powerful because we can then look it straight in the eye, acknowledge it and either accept it or work on it.  Having a healthy mind is so powerful because like the man I mentioned earlier, it can make you more peaceful, more kind and just a better person overall.  Most of us go through life allowing circumstances to predict our course.  Why not grab a hold of your life and make it have purpose!!  I certainly don’t see the downfall.  xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You have accomplished a lot in this life so far, take a second and allow yourself to receive that encouragement.

Always remember who you are and where you are, are different things. You are not stuck, it’s simply time for a detour. Vanilla Clouds Photography

During our time as little people on this earth, very often, we see a glimpse of who we want to be in other people.  I can think back and see snippets, quick flashes of images I memorized in my head of woman I admired and who I aspired to be.  Sometimes these woman were just illusions of what I thought it was to be an important adult and sometimes these woman were symbols of freedom and self expression.  Sometimes these woman were symbols of strength, discipline and success.Vanilla Clouds

If you think back to when you were a little child, I’m sure you can imagine what I am referring to.  I recall many times thinking while traveling on the subway in my teens on route to my internship at Time Warner how beautiful and successful some of the woman looked.  It was the peak of the 80’s power suit.  I was in awe of how  focused they were and how strong they looked in their carefully coordinated outfits and how beautifully their makeup was applied.  I would always think to myself, will I ever get there. Is that even palpable?  Then one day 10 years later, while working at a Hedge Fund in NY, it hit me, that I was that woman but I now had other aspirations… and thus, that is how life is.Vanilla Clouds Photography

Many times we reach points in our life that we have aspired to and don’t give ourselves the proper credit or pat on the back.  We don’t consciously acknowledge that we worked towards something and we earned it and so this is a moment to be proud of.  Despite the fact that we will have many aspirations in life, and some may seem nonessential to us as we become wiser in life, it is still important to acknowledge these accomplishments.  Vanilla Clouds Photography

Recognizing that we have grown and that we have completed something we set out to do strengthens our self worth.  Continuously setting new aspirations, will continue to polish us, to hone our wisdom and hopefully make us better humans. And the world could always use better humans. xo

Modelling my jewels is a dear friend Lauren Prince.  Taken at Gould’s Inlet, SSI GA May 2016.

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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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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.

 

 

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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

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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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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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