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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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.
Vanilla Clouds

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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Epic growth occurs in an ocean moment….

A couple of weekends ago was a warm one here for us.  I was able to go out to the ocean and spend some time shooting the waves. After every couple of shots, I would examine my progress and see if my camera focused in on a good part of the wave.  I can’t tell this immediately because I usually crouch down really low and shoot straight into the ocean, without really seeing what I am shooting.VanillaClouds Sometimes, this is a complete failure, but sometimes, it’s a wonderful surprise.  Actually, I shouldn’t say it’s a complete failure because without those failures, the successes wouldn’t feel as good and I would not be as inspired to continue striving for a better picture.Vanilla Clouds

At times, there are people around which at first used to make me a bit shy but I am getting better at phasing my surroundings out.  I understand that their curiosity gets the best of them sometimes and I hear giggles, which would have really bothered me a few years ago, but now, I just smile to myself when I hear it and carry on. As I shoot, I remind myself to really try to absorb the moment, enjoy it, look around, think it through and try a new way of shooting. Vanilla Clouds

That night as I lay in bed thinking of the millions of things I want to do in the future, just as I do every night, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.  I sometimes try to pack my head and consequently my days with so many ideas and goals that I don’t allow myself to enjoy what is happening right now.  As a result, it creates anxiety within me, which is not pleasant for me or for anyone around me.  I thought to myself, how can I be more positive and appreciative of the moment. Vanilla Clouds

Less is more. When I think back, for much of my life, I had the mentality of fitting in as much as possible but what I realize now is that when I had 4 distinctive plans in one day, I barely remembered what happened with each friend or event. I was so busy trying to be busy that I wasn’t absorbing the time spent at these events or with the people.  I now believe this is essential in having a continuous happy life, i.e., taking the time, as they say, “to smell the roses“.  Vanilla Clouds

When I got home that day after shooting at the beach, I reviewed about 50 shots of just the ocean waves. I carefully reviewed them, examined the colors, the depth, and I really allowed the joy that shooting nature gives me to fill me up and I found myself feeling gitty. SONY DSC

I heard this simile regarding this same idea.  It related the process of enjoying the moment to developing a photograph via the old fashioned process of utilizing Polaroids. in the 1920’s Polaroid photographs were produced by instant cameras and were developed in a dark room by placing the film in a series of developer liquids, then allowing the images to dry in the dark room. The best photographs were the ones that you took your time with and allowed to fully absorb the chemical process.  These photo’s were the ones that truly absorbed the potential of the image.  These photographs were the brightest, the most clear, the most rich.  I remember my dad had a Polaroid Camera when I was a child.  It was really quite exciting but I do recall there was a waiting period to see the final picture and any premature touching would disrupt the process. Vanilla Clouds

The slower you go, the deeper you feel. So for the past two weeks and now as a daily process, I remind myself to smell the ocean air, to listen to the waves, to feel the sand, the sunshine, the rain, the grass, the laughter, to listen to the kindness and let it touch me, to really listen to my friends, to take the time to feel the fur of the kitties roaming my community, to smell the food I’m cooking, to smell my boyfriends cologne while he is sitting next to me, to laugh at his jokes and most importantly to ignore anything around me that tries to steal my peace. Vanilla Clouds

I used to feel incredibly guilty about taking a nap on a beautiful day or simply taking some time to do absolutely nothing.  I have the wisdom and the confidence now to understand that when I feel guilty, I am identifying with negative thoughts instead of my potential.  The truth is, it’s in those “nothing” moments that the greatest ideas come to me.    When I crave a nap, I realize it is because my mind needs a refresh and that is a good thing and it’s also important that I listen to it. The images above were taken at East Beach on the island.

Below I got a big creative and turned our ocean into a Turquoise Caribbean sea, just for fun! Vanilla Clouds

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