When you know better, you do better – Oprah Winfrey

#Life Lessons

I struggled to accept this for a while but I’ve reconciled that the fact that you don’t see my light and my value is really your issue.  Yes it affects me in the short term, but the continued lack of insight on your end will surely bring you to your own demise.  This doesn’t bring me any joy but I release my attachment as I understand this lesson will come to you on it’s own time. The best that I can do for me, is to take the lesson and be better and When you know better, you do better. – Oprah Winfrey

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Why do you think people are so disposable?

I remember the moment I realized that I had been disposing of people so easily. 

A friend of mine invited me to meet her and her new love interest on the terrace of a fancy rooftop in NYC many years ago.  She and I had spent many days and nights discussing the dates we had been on and the kind of dates we wanted to be on.  My friend had been on a date with this specific man a few times and had developed an affinity for him.  She was excited for me to meet him. I may have chatted with him for about 5 minutes and then I turned to her and whispered, you could definitely do better.  I loved this friend very much and her facial reaction nearly crushed me.  She was so disappointed in my superficial observation paired with a disappointment in my failure to find the charm in her date. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was also heartbroken because I felt like I let her down.

Where did I learn to base someone’s worth merely on a 5 min chat and their appearance? Where did I learn that it was ok to be so insensitive to anyone, no less to someone that I really cared about and respected? Why was this person so disposable after only 5 minutes of chatting?  Was it time to find a new way of thinking?

What you give is what you get.

It seems that I spent a lot of time in my 20’s and early 30’s disposing of men and equally being disposed by men as well. But, what could I expect.  After all, we manifest the kind of experiences we have in our lives by the kind of actions we send out.  To put it simply, if I have the mentality that no one is good enough for me, why would i attract open minded people who see the best in me.  It just wouldn’t happen and if it did happen, it wouldn’t last because a person with a healthy sense of self worth becomes really good at recognizing when someone doesn’t appreciate them. They won’t stick around because they understand it’s not going to help them grow.

Girl, you need to work on yourself!

As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of flexibility, compassion and acceptance whether it be a potential mate or a friend.  It took me a while to build the kind of characteristics that I could respect in myself and unlearn the bad habits and conditioning I had picked up along the way.  I dated a lot of superficial mirror images of myself that left me feeling very empty and disappointed.   It’s not fun to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “girl, you need some work“.  It can be dang scary but working on yourself is the key to improving the relationships around you.

When I finally felt proud of myself, I noticed that I started to attract a different kind of person into my life. I became more confident and gained the courage to say yes and no at the appropriate times.  Sounds like an easy thing to do but for those who don’t have a strong sense of why they are, saying yes seems like the logical way to get people’s approval, to be liked.  However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth because nothing is more powerful than someone who stands on their own not needing the approval of others.

Things I want to remember.

There are always reasons behind our actions.  There is a logical reason why I was so critical, mostly because I was extremely critical of myself.  I never felt good enough in any way and so, how could I see those qualities in others. Not possible.   With a little soul searching we all may begin to uncover the root of our tendencies.

As flawed creatures, the best that we can do is be better when we know we can.  I don’t want to be the kind of person who dismisses someone because they don’t fit a certain mold. I know now that the most interesting people I have met were those that broke molds. I would have missed out on so much if I hadn’t crossed paths with them. So, in closing, let’s promise to remind ourselves that people aren’t disposable, we aren’t disposable.  Let’s practice believing that daily. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When you know you know and timing is everything….

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”

Have you read this quote from the book Beloved by Toni Morrison? I’ve never read the book, but I have been drawn to the quotes from this book for as long as I can remember.  I confess, that I don’t know enough about the author or her books, to really give a genuine opinion but I do know that the little that I’ve read certainly touches me in a satisfying place.  This book “Beloved” is one of her greatest masterpieces and the book was made into a movie in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey.

I mentioned this quote because in terms of the top 10 poetic and romantic responses to the question ” why do you love her?“, I find this response simply beautiful.  But what does it really mean and how does one know?

Timing is everything.

I hated when people told me that…I always felt it was so unromantic.

I remember watching the show Sex in the City in the 90’s and Carrie (the main character played by Sarah Jessica Parker) chased her paramour, Mr. Big (played by Chris Noth) the entire time the show was in syndication. Finally, Carrie was certain that her Mr. Big was the one..and there is a scene where she asks him something like this ” You get to a point in life when you want to stand still with someone, don’t you want to stand still with me? “  Hearing that, made my heart stop because very few ultimatums work out well and I had a feeling, she would be left broken hearted and hear is where that phrase timing is everything, comes into play.  You may have done your internal work and be ready for the next serious phase in your romantic life but there is no guarantee that the person you fall for is at the same place in life.   Everyone grows at their own pace.  I don’t exactly remember Mr. Big’s response,…but I can tell you that it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, as he was not ready to make this decision.

So, how do you know?

You hear it in movies and if you are lucky enough, (sarcasm) you have had someone tell you, When you know you know, and as a person who hates cliches, this response always frustrated me.

Fundamentally, I feel that things must occur in each of our lives to make us ready to receive someone else whole heartedly.  I know you don’t want to hear this, but a lot of internal work has to be done and self awareness definitely needs to be present.  In such a big world, I certainly don’t think that there is just one person out there for us but knowing yourself and what you need to be happy certainly helps you find someone you can build a life with. It will also help you recognize similar characteristics in someone else, so that you aren’t investing your time with someone who will eventually show you signs of non commitment.

That said, here are my 2 cents.

When you look forward to your life, sharing it with someone who shares common goals, interests and beliefs, certainly helps ease your comfort with each other and creates the foundation for you to want to get to know each other.  But after that, I think for most of us, it happens unexpectedly… Suddenly you are with someone, and it’s enjoyable. You’re not finding reasons to bicker and you’re also not struggling for power.  Your goal genuinely becomes to make each other happy because that makes you happy.  You certainly have disagreements, but you apologize even when you don’t know exactly what you’re apologizing for because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.  You just don’t want to be upset with one another.  You understand that no one is perfect because you have come to your own realization that you, yourself are filled with tons of misconceptions and bad conditioning that occurred prior to meeting them that has absolutely nothing to do with him/her.  So, instead, their imperfections become human and you develop compassion for them.  You develop patience because you yourself knows that you are a working progress and thus, so is he/she.

And finally, your fear of being without this person, becomes stronger than your fear of commitment.  You help each other grow your best parts and through osmosis you develop an understanding of those areas that need improvement.  You develop a deep trust built on vulnerability and you truly inspire each other in the best ways.  It’s not easy, but you are committed to making it work and there is nothing healthier, prosperous or more fulfilling than a good relationship with the one you love. xo

 

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I Cried this Morning at Yoga.

For many of us, yoga was something hippies do. It was a strange practice we knew nothing about but as ignorance always does, we created this story in our head without understanding what it was.  We decided it was weird. We didn’t bother to learn about it.

The day I found out my father was sick, all my years of practicing Buddhist philosophy and yoga certainly helped prepare me.  I had an understanding that life is about impermanence and that we are all a development of our choices.  That we are on our own paths, that we can inspire but not motivate.  That we can and should always lead by example, make decisions with the heart but also not be foolish.

What it didn’t prepare me for is the sadness I would feel for those who didn’t see life that way….who never gained the wisdom to understand that the very thing they used to escape, is what kept them trapped and suffering. In Buddhism, is it called Samsara, the circle of life.  We in a sense trap ourselves by continuing to make the same mistakes that keep us miserable.

My dad, similar to many folks of his generation, used alcohol to escape discomfort, confrontation and emotion.  He protected his heart fiercely from pain and of course beauty.  For you can never have one without the other.  Our parents are supposed to be the wise ones. They are supposed to be the ones who teach us how to overcome, self worth, to believe in your ability to contribute to the world and how to manage life’s very hard obstacles…. but what happens when you keep growing and they don’t?

One morning I woke up and felt absolutely awful.  The air was thick, my head was pounding and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I had two choices…I could lay in bed all day and allow the sadness to swallow me.  I could give in to the pull to drench my spirit and as a result, drench my husbands spirit and anyone around me.  Or I could get up, take a hot shower and make an effort.  I could go to yoga and try my best to release.  I could sincerely try to receive the spirit of yoga which is really about letting go. Letting go of what you cannot change, but also believing in the power of compassion.

And so, that morning for the first time, I really used yoga to my advantage. I closed my eyes when it was safe and allowed the tears to fall down my cheeks.  I know what you’re thinking, how sad, but I can tell you, that it felt the exact opposite way.  With every movement and every exhale,  I let go of the need to save my father. For weeks, it felt like I was a dam holding a ton of water and suddenly, I was able to just lift the dam and the dam was me.   All that pressure, the elephant that had been sitting on my chest for a few weeks, got up and walk away.  The air thinned a bit and I felt a slight sense of relief. Enough relief for me to know that I had made some progress.

After that day, I immersed myself in prayer, meditation and spiritual practice for weeks.  During his last 2 weeks, I spent every morning with my father…present, crying when I needed to and accepting that this is part of life.  When he left us, I prayed that he had made peace with his shortcomings for most of us have some guilt we carry that serves us no purpose.

Yoga gives us permission to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings. It gives us an opportunity to pause, and give our minds a break from chaos.  Yoga made me cry that morning and has since made me cry a few more times and every time it has happened, a huge amount of pressure is lifted from my shoulders and I walk just a little bit lighter that day.

Wishing you peace to your heart. xo

 

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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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If you don’t put meaning into your life, the result is, your life will be meaningless.

There are so many,  but let’s start with these.  Quotes or reads from my 2015 studies that have influenced me and shown me a light along my path.  🙂  Happy New Year 2016!!

The blog title is my number 1 quote because although very simple, it’s also very deep.

  1. If you don’t put meaning into your life, the result is, your life will have no meaning.  The only way your life will have satisfying moments is if you seek to do things and spend time with those that feed your soul.Prop of Vanilla Clouds
  2. You are the owner of your own karma.  There is no surprise here, but also remember that the biggest importance with karma is intention.  What was your true intention behind an act.  Catching the flu isn’t the result of your karma coming back to get you.  It’s simply the result of coming into contact with the flu virus.PropofVanillaClouds
  3. People often meditate hoping that some light will go off and give them the answers they are seeking.  You meditate not to get things but to let things go.  Meditation is a way to let go of the baggage that we often carry around. It’s a way for us to have 10 minutes of non activity. It gives our brain a rest so that we can refresh and begin again with a free and less heavier mind. PropofVanillaClouds
  4. Often, our first response is to put someone down for doing something we don’t approve or feel is not helpful to the person. To really help someone or make progress in a situation, you must understand someone or something,  from the mind of the person and empathize with them.PropertyofVanillaClouds
  5.  Most of our lives, we feel shame and hide from our imperfections, feeling terrified that someone will call us on it and this discovery will be the worst possible thing.  The truth is, there is a big freedom that comes from understanding our flaws.  Once you understand, you can either embrace or improve them and that fear begins to disappear.

Model is our local Yogi and Dance Teacher, AshleyAnne Brown.

Article was inspired by the teachings of Ajahn Brahm.

 

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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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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 🙂

Vanilla Clouds

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.

vanilla Clouds

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.

Vanilla Clouds

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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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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