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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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

Vanilla Clouds

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
Vanilla Clouds
Vanilla Clouds

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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I pray that I never forget how good it makes me feel to champion others.

Planted goodness is the only thing that you can take with you wherever you go.  No one can take the good deeds you do away from your heart.  Let them enrich you.

The other day while I was in this Barre Toning class that I recently became obsessed with, I remember feeling out of sorts.  Working out is one of  my favorite stress releases and unfortunately, the weather has kept me trapped inside as my only mode of transportation to the gym I belong to, is my bike at the moment.  And my golden rule is, when the temperature drops below 45 degrees, it’s officially too cold for this lady to ride her bike!  Actually, it’s not even the temperature that is the issue, it’s really the wind against my face that becomes intolerable.Vanilla Clouds Note Card

Anyhow,…I digress.  The new studio I enrolled in just for these classes, happens to be about 50 feet from my apartment, so, it’s quite convenient.

I actually haven’t taken a class in while.  I am ok doing free style dance moves but when you ask me to count and move and step at the same time, something in my body goes wrong.  So, as usual,  my uncoordinated butt was having a hard time following the routines and to boot, I’m blessed with the sweat gene, meaning I sweat more than anyone in the class within the first 5 minutes of even starting. Lovely!Vanilla Clouds The Fall NC

Despite what seems like me complaining, I actually really enjoyed the class and it certainly kicked my butt.  I kept to myself since I really didn’t know anyone and as I walked out, this older woman who was way more coordinated than I was, tapped my shoulder and said, your hair looks so beautiful, I couldn’t help but stare at it since I was sitting behind you.  Meanwhile, my hair was in a bun but the Buddhist teacher I listen to says, never deny a compliment, you do yourself a disservice.  So, compliment registered, check.Vanilla CloudsTransform Adversities NC

Now I know you’re thinking, that that little compliment doesn’t seem like a big deal but the thing is, even the strongest person has bad days and although they shield it with a smile or a grimace, many people are suffering inside.  I’m certainly not the strongest, actually, I’m a wimp and sometimes, I need a little boost just like everyone else who doesn’t like to admit it does.  This simple moment just reminded me that sometimes all it takes is a kind gesture to make someone’s day. It may require you to leave your comfort zone for a bit but it’s such an honorable thing to do.  So this blog post is about kindness.

I pray that I never forget how good it makes me feel to champion others.  I pray that I always remember how it pleases my heart to know that I made someone’s day just a little bit better.

Post cards above can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/VanillaClouds?section_id=16512533&ref=shopsection_leftnav_7

 

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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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New Vanilla Clouds items on my Etsy site!

I’ve been feeling a little inspired lately…and you know what they say, strike when the iron is hot!  So, here are a few new items I have added to my Etsy site.

I kind of jumped on the Frozen bandwagon, albeit, a little late…but here are a set of children’s recipe or invitations inspired by the Frozen colors.  The files uploaded a bit distorted and these colors are not exact representations of the actual card colors.  Click on this link, if you would like a closer more precise look:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/215226535/childrens-recipe-or-invitation-cards10?ref=listing-shop-header-3

Cupcake 2 Pattern v2 Cupcake 1 pattern v3

These are very unconventional Thank you note cards.  There is a unique message on the back.   Photographs were taken on St. Simons Island, GA.  Click on the link to my Etsy site if you would like to take a closer look!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/215338239/thank-you-cards-set5?ref=shop_home_active_1

Group NC Layout

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Getting through the chaos that is the holidays….

The holidays have always been super challenging for me.  While my normally positive disposition wanted to be happy and enjoy the excitement, this time of year usually brought up a lot of memories. Sometimes these memories were good and well, sometimes they were not so good.20141129_123655

It’s this time of year that we also think of old friends that we don’t speak with anymore and wonder where they are and hope that they are doing ok.VanillaClouds

In our lifetime, we share so many moments with different people at different points in our lives.  When I was younger, the thought that I would loose touch with someone that I loved or was super close with literally broke my heart and I just didn’t think it was possible.  Thus, it has happened.  I used to ponder, miss them, be sad about it but then one day I saw the movie, Eat Pray Love and I heard this quote and it has stayed with me and offered lots of comfort. If you have experienced this type of emotion as well, then I recommend you watch this movie.  Here is the quote and to explain the context, someone is explaining to the main character how she should move past a person she loved and missed 🙂

“Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. “But I love him.”  “So love him.” “But I miss him.” “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.”

and that is what I do now.  I silently wish them light and love..and I move on.  It’s worked for me and I hope it can work for you.VanillaClouds

How do you find peace, in a family of chaos?

A lot of my sadness came from  not having a significant other to share it with, but a significant amount of it came from within my own family.  I love my family very much, but I grew up in a family that was rarely at peace during the holidays.  I craved that loving environment that some of my friends talked about or what I had seen on TV.  There were years when I absolutely dreaded the end of the year because there I was alone in the same scenario reliving the same memories.  Gosh that sounds dreadful!!, but it’s true.

I finally got to the bottom of my well of despair and I literally got sick of feeling sad and hopeless.  I knew that I needed to change my mindset or I would never feel happy or find peace inside.VanillaClouds

“Just as the manure in your garden can enrich your plant, so, can the adversities of our lives make us wiser” -Ajahn Brahm

Getting through it was not easy but slowly and surely, I sought wisdom.  I read books, went to lectures, began mediating and emmersed myself in things that made me happy. For me, that was art and photography, for you it can be something else.  As long as the happiness it brings you is an awakening of something inside you, it will help you grow.  I tried to stay away from superficial things and distanced myself from superficial characters in my life.  Getting better takes courage and determination.VanillaClouds

When life hands you lemons…or shit, you need to learn to find its meaning and transform it! Because what is the alternative.

I can’t tell you that I understood the chaos in my life when it was happening, but as i grew more in tune with myself, and developed more compassion, some things I understood and other things, I was able to let go because they did not matter.  I embraced the adversities that happened in my life, tried to understand them, accepted them, did not judge them and slowly they dispersed.  It’s really quite amazing, once I acknowledged them, accepted it as part of my growth, these things no longer kept me up at night.  They no longer made me sad on long train rides, holding my gaze out the window thinking and staring at absolutely nothing.20141129_124245

You can’t change the world but you can change yourself…and the best part is, when you do, you have an affect on people.  You may not see it at first, but have faith that the little peace you bring into a situation is bigger than you realize.  After all, the true and most satisfying measure of ones life is in it’s ability to touch another’s.  Once you are in a better place, you are in a better position to support your family, your friends and anyone else you come into contact with.Vanilla Clouds

I hope this holiday beings you lots of blessings, I hope you find strength and courage to seek what you need to grow into a better human being inside and out. xoVanilla Clouds

This year was a blessing. It will be the first Christmas, B and  I will celebrate together in our own home.  It took many years for me to get here and I am super grateful I was ready to receive this beautiful blessing.  The photos above are of our trip to the Christmas Tree Farm 🙂 It was an amazing experience!

 

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Converting Negatives into Positives….

There were times in my life when I  encountered someone who had such a strong sense of confidence and I will admit, part of me was quite envious. Sometimes, that pride made perfect sense to me, and sometimes, it was confusing to me because it seemed unearned and and kind of a non-virtuous pride.SONY DSC

I was quite Naive as a young girl, but I certainly knew the difference between working hard and earning something and getting things by taking advantage of a situation.  Earning it seemed the more noble method to me, the other was just plain lazy.

“Never dull your shine for somebody” Tyra Banks

I love writing this quote because I know that many of us have done this at some point in our lives, i.e., faded into the background, dulled our strengths so that someone else could shine.

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I’ve learned along the way, that we build character through challenge, experiences and adversities.  These experiences build in us a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of worth but I suppose they could also build in us a sense of entitlement, resentment and fear. If what  we experience is the latter, the key would be to convert this experience into something positive.  How do we do this? It’s as simple as being at peace with not getting a job you applied to and believing that there must be a better suited position out there for you.. or that you need to step up your game in interviews. See what I did?  I just made a negative situation something positive and now I can focus on the next interview as opposed to dwelling on this one. Maybe not so simple??  The idea behind this thinking is to empower yourself with the belief that you can personally change your behavior and thus receive more pleasing results in the future. SONY DSC

How can I convert this experience into something positive.  

This kind of conversion is evident in the drug treatment centers when the drug counselor is a recovering addict themselves. No one could ever know the feeling of being addicted unless you yourself had experienced this and so, how powerful it is to be able to say to someone, I know how you feel, but it gets better, you can get better.  This is what it means to convert your adversity to something positive.  SONY DSC

 

When you feel good about yourself,..you try even harder to do those things that bring happiness.

What I have noticed along my journey, is that it is so important to go after things in life, because even if you don’t accomplish your goal or you don’t get what you want, there is something about that journey that affects you.  It is up to you to convert it.SONY DSC

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When you refuse praise yourself,..you are discouraging your spirit and thus losing this wonderful opportunity to encourage more of the same.SONY DSC
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So, next time someone compliments you, accept it, say thank you and let that seed grow and bloom inside you.  Create a garden for more seeds to grow and bloom.  Be humble but confident in what you bring to this world…and quoting a friend of mine who gave me this same pep talk a few weeks ago,..Be proud, of what you accomplish, you earned your Stripes.

Images above were taken near the King and Prince Hotel and on the beach on St. Simons Island.

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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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