Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What Inspires Me

I have had several people tell me that my bravery to overcome obstacles and my bravery for wanting to enjoy my life have inspired them. Either to put themselves out there and share their gifts, or to do that one thing that they have always wanted to try but were to afraid of what others might think if they tried it and failed. Or even sometimes to just start that internal journey of evaluating their own souls and finding what brings them their own personal bliss.

But for every person who has told me I inspire them there are just as many who ask who inspires me. So today I want to share a couple of links to some amazing people and their blog sites or vlog sites and show others those who truly have helped me become the person I am becoming with each and every passing day.

People who have decided that surviving is not living and have decided that following their own bliss is something that has value not only for themselves but also for their own personal journey.  People who I follow or who I watch and listen to. People who have helped me clear the fog often surrounding my brain and helped me see clearer regarding what is reality and what is fear based. The fear based and only holding me back from the things I enjoy and living the life I was born to live.  Or in the immortal words of Star Trek, Fear is only created to be overcome.

I have written about overcoming obstacles in your daily lives.  How sometimes those obstacles help us grow and become wiser and stronger for the journey ahead. But I also feel it is important to understand what is behind my desire to find my own personal bliss and to helping me with the road map of my journey that often remains a mystery for those without a network of friends and family or mentors that can guide you along the way.

First I want to mention Dawn Kirk,  this amazing lady although I have never met in person I have spoken with several times via the internet as well as I read her blog and watch her vlogs.  I am amazed at how strong she is even in the face of adversity and never gives up, even when most would say I am not making a difference and stop trying.  I will include a link to her sites below.

Dawn Kirk Imagine the shift Vlog Site

Dawn Kirk Imagine the Shift Blog Site

Dawn Kirk Facebook page for Imagine the Shift

Another amazing woman I have had the pleasure of knowing offline as well as reading her blog and always enjoying the many recipes and advise she shares in them is Lady Feri. Now that isn't her birth name but it is the name she writes under and is known by, She is a wonderfully strong and courageous woman who has taught me over the multitude of years that I have known her how to grab life by the horns and live it to the fullest. I personally do not think this woman is afraid of anything.  She is self employed success who goes where she wants, does what she wants and follows her own personal bliss on a daily basis.  She has inspired me to be braver to to take chances when they present themselves in my life in order to expand my horizons and live the life I was born to live.

Help by Lady Feri

Another less public person but just as important is a volunteer with our canine Rescue, Rose Burrow. She is our Director of Creative Arts.  That title means that she is our go to girl for handling anything having to do with PR or artwork or even fundraising.  She is an amazing person who has taught me to embrace my wild side and instead of hiding my head in the sand to actually go for it when my dreams need to become a reality.  She is my friend as well as my coworker and the editor of an online magazine called White Gloves and Latex Gauntlets.  This publication showcases local talent and what is going on within the artist community.  She has been a close friend and a sister by another mother to me for almost half a decade now and I am very thankful to not only have her guidance but to also to borrow her own personal strength from time to time.

White Gloves and Latex Gauntlets Facebook page

Another female that has inspired me whether she realizes it or not and is rather adult in nature is a website known as the twisted Broad. She is never afraid to address issues that others may shy away from. Sharing her knowledge and her experiences in hopes of encouraging others to take a walk on the wild side, or just communicate with those in their lives in hopes of improving the quality of life of her readers. She has a blog and a vlog sites and I adore watching her new videos or even just reading her status updates. 

Twisted Broad Youtube channel

Twisted Broad Facebook page

Another person who inspires me and makes me strive to be a better happier person is Dawn Spalding and her charming husband Adam.  They have even in these tough economic times started their own business and are working together as a team to make it a success. Their company cleans aquariums and I have known Dawn for many years prior to them beginning their company and she has always been the most honest straight shooting person I have known.  She inspires me because through it all she has taught me that true love, not the hollywood kind of love but a real partnership between two people can survive anything and that if you want something bad enough you have to work your butt off to make it happen.  She is an amazing person and she is one of the many intelligent people who motivate me to be the best I can be and to stretch myself to accomplish what I want out of this life.

The Aquarium Nerds Facebook Site

Another amazingly strong person who inspires me is Carolyn Dickerson, she runs a website called Look great, lose weight, and save money.  Her website is filled with tips and tricks on how to look your best and feel your best even when you are operating on a budget. I enjoy watching her vlogs and reading her latest articles. To me she is a super woman. 

Look great, Lose Weight, Save Money Website

Carolyn Dickerson Channel on Youtube

I have also been inspired by many people within my family who I admire their strength and courage. My youngest daughter Patricia Drach is very young but still an inspiration to those who know her.  She began her own photography site and is working towards making her dreams a reality.

Patricia Drach Photo facebook site

My middle daughter Amber Kolaski has written and self published her first book.  To me that is an amazing demonstration of determination to make her dream of being a writer a reality. She juggles the many responsibilities in her life with her dreams and goals and has a never give up mentality about it.  As well as publishing a blog sharing her insights and experiences as being a mom of multiples and learning to multitask on several different levels.

Fire Riders by Amber Kolaski

Amber Kolaski Blog Site

I am blessed to have surrounded myself with amazing and intelligent people.  I have chosen wisely when deciding who I would allow within my inner circle of friends to only pick those who not only understand my desire to be more than I am today but to encourage me to be all that I am capable of being.  There are many others that I draw inspiration from but most of those people are very private and don't feel the need to share their gifts with websites or blog sites or even a vlog or two.  I truly appreciate those as well.  But this handful of folks are just a sampling of the amazing people I share my life with and get my inspiration from. 

Sometimes it may simply be something said in a passing conversation, or perhaps it is watching them overcome obstacles and issues that would cripple the average person and stalemate their desires to reach their end goal.  But I draw inspiration from a wide variety of people and a very wide variety of places. From the television shows I choose to watch through the books I choose to read.  I don't allow negative people to limit my abilities nor do I allow them to feed off my creative energies.

If you want something you have to work at it, that includes being happy.  You have to decide what is in your best interest and in the best interest of those you include in your circle of friends.  You have to take an active participation in your life and in the choices you make or you will always be at the mercy of those around you.  I have learned that life lesson from watching these amazing people and many like them.

I am pretty sure that many of my readers thought when I labeled this blog What Inspires me that I would mention famous people or religious groups. I am inspired by those around me who are just like me, who do what they have to do and deal with the ups and downs of living a real life. Who plug away day after day pursuing their dreams and following their own bliss.  Who are role models for me to watch and learn from.  Who in my eyes are living the life I want to live and helping me figure out exactly how to go about doing that.

I hope my blog today has given you some food for thought. I hope that you click on one or more of the sites I have shared and see if perhaps these folks can help inspire you as well.  That you take each day for what it is a gift because our time on this planet is not guaranteed and  if you put off following your bliss until you have more time, more money, or more knowledge many times that day never arrives.  You don't have to be rich or famous to inspire people, you don't even have to be the best of the best. If you are out there living that dream, showing others that it is a doable thing. Many times they will join you on that journey and even help you learn first hand what works and what doesn't.

Until next time blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane and be happy.

I learn a lot from the dogs I share my life with.
They have taught me that there is nothing on this planet that cannot be solved with a nap and a full belly.  They have also taught me that when life gives you an opportunity for happy experiences you should grab it with all you have and hold on to that happiness. If it is a run in the yard or a nap on the sofa. To live in this moment, but to dream of next week and to always be as happy as possible.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Through Adversity we often find our Truest Selves

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, something that may or may not have set off your early warning systems.  Things sometimes appear on your horizon or even pop up out of the clear blue, but how you handle it will often help dictate how you live the rest of your life.  Many times we are all tried and tested by fire.  The loss of a loved one or the change of our employment situation can often trigger responses we were unaware existed within our own souls.  We may be anger or hurt, disbelief and shock are common as well. We may blame ourselves or others all the while wondering how this will affect our long term goals and dreams.  But don't stress it. Change is inevitable.  It is the only thing certain in our lives.

People come and go, some by choice some by accident.  Bad things do happen to good people but you cannot allow those feelings of pain and hurt to stop you from living a good life.  You cannot hide away in a shell and bury you head in the sand because those feelings will still be there when you come up for air.

I don't share many details of my personal life on my blog and I try to keep my blogs very generalized for several reasons.  One is my blog is read by a lot of folks all over the globe and to be honest I don't feel comfortable sharing my deepest darkest and sometimes saddest moments of my life.  Second I do it because if you know me well you already know what is going on in my personal life and don't need it to be in print to understand my words or my thoughts in my blog. And thirdly because we all have problems. Even the happiest people on the planet have bad days. Days when you burn your toast, spill your coffee and break a heal on your favorite pumps as you are walking out the door on your way to work.  We all have them. It isn't a matter of living a perfect life. It is a matter of being able to rise above the issues of every day life and putting them in perspective.

Some problems have longer lasting effects than others, but with time everything shows the reason for facing such adversity. It may be to help us grow into the people we wouldn't become without having a little drama in our life.  It may to help us understand another persons problem better for having been there done that.  It may simply be to shake up our world and remind us what is truly important in our life.  Whatever the reason always pay attention when bad times come for a visit.  Never simply assume they happened because you were due for a stretch of bad luck or that you have done something to bring the karma fairy to your doorstep. 

Sometimes things happen just because they can.  Sometimes we need that wake up call to remind us that life is short and if we are so busy focusing on what lies ahead we forget to stop and enjoy the moments that make life worthwhile.  Sometimes bad things happen just because they can.  I don't know that is a question for another time but it is something to think about while sitting in traffic cursing that slow moving motorist in front you who is making you late for your appointment.

Sometimes life changes in an instant.  It can go from sunny and mild to thunderstorms and lightening in the blink of an eye. Something we may have counted on being with us for the rest of our lives can be lost or destroyed without any warning or any red flags. Sometimes that nagging voice in the back of our heads may give us a heads up and other times its like being hit by a bus on your way home from work. You just didn't see it coming.  But never fear, if you can pick yourself up from the sidewalk after being hit and survive it chances are, things are looking up.

Things always look worst in the heat of the moment. You feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and you aren't sure you are capable of taking that next breath.  You want the world to stop spinning and you want the life you had 10 minutes before it happened. Sometimes you may even convince yourself that it isn't real just a bad dream and you will wake up just any second now. But then you don't and with time you come to the realization that it is real and this is your life and you cannot escape it.

But don't let it jade you or stop you from being happy.  A bad moment does not a bad life make.  A bad moment is just that a bad moment.  For this too shall pass, as my dear Mema used to say.  At times of trouble I often hear her wise words echoing in my head. Things she said when I was a child but I didn't understand at the at time, but now as I have grown older and wiser I finally understand. 

I was blessed to be raised by a very Southern Grandmother who always had a witty saying for every situation.  I look back on my time at her house during the summer breaks from School and wonder how I survived to adulthood.  Whatever she told me not to do I usually did anyway and often learned the hard way why I should have listened to her advice.  We had this very wild pony on Grandma's farm. It would let you touch it and it would take an apple from your hand and even let you touch its velvety soft nose. But you couldn't ride that pony. 

One day I asked my grandmother why we didn't ride the pony.  She told me that the pony has once belonged to a couple who had a bundle of small kids and the pony was ridden every single day until it almost dropped from exhaustion but as the pony grew older it became harder and harder for it to keep up with that whole passel of kids.  The neighbors decided that the old pony had seen better days and were going to send it off to auction when my grandmother stepped in. She herself had raised a handful of kids and she knew how it felt to never get a break when it came to all that energy kids often have. So she agreed to take that pony and to let it live out its remaining days in her back pasture. It came and went as it liked. She always made sure it had food and water and shelter from the heat and the cold. But for all intense purposes the pony was wild.

One day I decided I was going to ride that pony, even through my grandmother had told me not to. She said to be respectful of the old horse and let it be.  She allowed us to take it down special treats and we could sit and watch it graze in the pasture but no one was allowed to ride it.  My cousins and I spent every summer with my Grandmother. It was a chance for us to escape the boring summer ahead of us in our urban city.  And spending time picking corn and leaning how to live in a more rural setting was always a welcome break not just for us but for our parents as well.

So I made up a bridle from some old twine I found from a hay bale and slowly slipped it over that pony's head. No bit, no saddle just me and my rope bridle.  The pony allowed me to guide it to a near by stump and I jumped up on that pony.  At first it just stood there, probably as much in shock that I had done that as I was.  Then is began to slowly walk around. Its head very low to the ground.  Its walk turned into a trot and that trot turned into a gallop and the next thing I knew I was airborn sailing through the air headed for the old fence that the pony stayed in.

I woke up laying at an odd angle and could hear my grandmother screaming somewhere very far off but getting louder.  The pony stood about 5 feet from me just looking at me, that old rope halter askew on its head, one ear still in the other had already escaped. Just looking at me as if to say, you should have listened to your grandmother.

My grandmother was surprised that I hadn't killed myself, and I never tried to ride that pony every again and it lived many years after that incident.  But I stood up after I caught my breath which had been knocked out of me when I hit the ground.  Dusted myself off and learned sometimes grandmothers are right. There are some things on this planet not meant to be controlled.

Life is a lot like that old pony. They are beautiful to look at, gentle and exciting to touch and be near, but sometimes you just gotta know where your limits are.  Sometimes you have to be smart enough to know when to ride and when to walk away while you still can.  So my message to you my blog buddies is this.  Sometimes in the darkest moments we learn more about ourselves and our limitations than we will ever learn in bright happy days.  Sometimes it takes hitting that ground for reality to hit home and for your sense of self to be returned.

Now I don't advice anyone to go out and find a wild pony and try their hand at riding them. It doesn't always take being airborne for you to realize that gravity exist. And sometimes bad things can happen for good reasons.  Just know that if you can still move and think and breath after a truly bad thing happens that you will be wiser and stronger for having survived the moment.

Until next time blog buddies, Stay safe, stay sane and be happy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happiness is Addictive and Contagious

As I sipped my coffee this morning and read through my friends status updates on a networking site I came to the conclusion that happiness is contagious. By pursuing my own happiness and dreams I have in one way or another encouraged others to pursue their own bliss. Be that by trying their hand in a hobby they have long admired or being brave enough to put their written words to paper or screen and releasing it to the world at large.  

I began this journey as a self exploration, to finally after all these years get to know myself like I know others who share my life. For the first time in my long existence to put myself first and foremost in my thoughts and actions, if only for a few brief moments a day or one day a week.  I have explored many different paths during this journey and have many more I plan on trying to see if perhaps they too may be a good fit for my growing awareness of not only myself but as my universe as a whole.

I am still on occasion getting the negative Nilly who swears my interest and passions are in some way taking away from my quality of life.  Those who feel my time would be better spent doing something for them instead of myself. But I have also learned how to turn off those voices in my head that have been a constant reminder that I am not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.

I have learned to step outside my own safety bubble and take risk that before this journey began I never would have been brave enough to pursue. Because I have learned that failure is part of the journey and without it we cannot learn nor can we evolve into better people.

I have also learned that happiness is addictive. I try very hard to work within a set budget or use materials that are readily at hand. But even with using the things I already have to follow my bliss I still find myself daydreaming about the day I can afford bigger and better toys for my passions. Be that photography equipment or kiln for glass bead making.  I have become addicted to that adrenaline rush that often accompanies trying a new thing for the first time and the endorphin rush from completing a project and being proud of that labor and creativity invested.

A bead created by my darling husband during our first attempt at glass bead making and 
chain maille necklace made by me.

 A tree of life made from sterling silver wire with fresh water pearls.

A glass cabochon made during the latest journey of my jewelry passion

Not all things I have tried I have discovered I am suited for. Some things have fallen by the wayside never to be tried again simply because although the experience was fun it wasn't something that peaked my interest or made my heart soar with joy.  I have also evolved within the blissful experience. One often leading to another or morphing into something completely different than the original experience was leading to.

Along my journey's path I have also been blessed to meet some of the most amazing, intelligent, supportive, loving people on the planet who have often stepped forward out of the blue and helped me learn and evolve. And regardless if the passion took or was passing I will always treasure those people and their giving nature to advice and guide me towards more information, advice from others within that sacred circle of knowledge.  I have not only learned about myself I have also learned quiet a bit about humans and their capacity to help another that they are in no way connected with.

I have seen the better side of humanity. Something most of us are never able to see because of the constant flow of negative people and onslaught of negative things in our direct line of vision.  I have been able to see people in a whole new way and vastly improve my original thinking regarding human kind as a species.

I have played with fire ranging from shooting off fireworks, which I have been afraid of in the past, through setting steel wool on fire to capture some amazing photographs.  I have fitted a rifle to my shoulder and shot through the center of a target at a decent distance and learned that you are the master of your own destiny.  I have gone places and experienced things that had I not taken this journey I would have missed out on.  I have learned what is making me happy and what steps I need to make in order to further my journey of self exploration and self discovery.

 A shot done with a long exposure and a dogs laser light.

Fireworks shot taken on the 4rth of July in Nashville, TN

Shot taken with long exposure and single tea light candle

I have eaten foods that I have in the past said I tried it once and it was nasty with a new appreciation and a new outlook.  I have also learned that we are all alike as some core center and regardless of the color of your skin, your country of origin or your upbringing we all have the same basic needs. To love to be needed and to be heard.  I have learned that not everything is as simple as it may first appear and that many skills and talents may go untapped if you do not try and practice and succeed through failure. I have grown a true appreciation for artist and their skills and their knowledge.
I have taken a walk on the wild side and been rewarded with a growing sense of accomplishment and happiness.  I do not regret my experiences even the miserably failed ones simple because they have helped me grow and evolve into the person I am becoming and given me a sense of self respect that no amount of money could have bought.  They have given me something to write about, something to explore and something to think about long after the experience is gone and past.  They have filled an empty vessel with happy memories, exciting moments and ideas of things I would like to try.

My journey has not always been an easy one, at times it has felt like walking through molasses in the dead of winter. My steps slow and calculated and my headway non existent to the untrained eye.  I have had my pitfalls and missteps but in the end I can look back and honestly say I have done that been there and truly lived.

I have found myself growing closer with many in life and using my new talents to enhance their quality of life and their own happiness.  And I have found that I am far more positive person for having taken the chance and tried something new.  I just wanted to share those insights today and hopefully encourage others to begin their own journeys and to step outside that comfortable bubble we all form around us to protect ourselves from outside world. 

As children we come into this world filled with amazement and awe at the simple things in life.  We are open to new ideas and new experiences but with time we shut down. Be that because we are told that we cannot do that or that it is impossible.  I say never lose that sense of wonder that we are all born with. That spark of curiosity that helps us grow and evolve and learn.  A day in your life that you don't learn something new, be that about yourself or your world is a wasted day of your life.  If you cannot afford a traditional education there are always options available to you via independent study, exploration and experimenting.

I hope my words inspire and make all those who read them take a closer look at their own lives.  That they put those safe predictable and ordinary lives under a microscope and look at the things we do that make us happy and the things that don't.  That they decide that life is entirely to short to be miserable and that being asleep at the wheel of their own destiny is no way to live a remarkable life.

I often tell people I have no intention on arriving at my grave in a well preserved body. I plan on sliding in sideways worn out and exhausted and screaming "what a ride". Simply because we are not guaranteed an additional 5 or 10 or 20 years to pursue our dreams. We are only guaranteed right here and right now and it is never to soon to follow your bliss.

Until next time blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane, and be happy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Loving Yourself enough to do what makes you Happy

I haven't written in a while because right now my life is filled beyond capacity.  It is filled with happy memories and new experiences and new feelings. Both about myself and my life in general.  But I had the time today to give an update on my journey towards finding my bliss.

Sometimes it isn't easy doing what makes you happy. You may encounter obstacles in the least expected places. Sometimes well meaning friends and family members may feel the need to label your needs as selfish. They may even feel that you are in some way doing a disservice to them because you are stretching out and touching new horizons.  They may feel threatened because you are doing things they only dreamed of but were never brave enough to try for themselves.

Don't be disheartened by this negative feedback.  Take it for what is worth. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Pursue what brings true joy to your life. Be that taking some new chances or simply being brave enough to show your real face to the world.  Never apologize for being brave it is a rare quality not found in many.

Never allow the feelings of other to stop you from being happy. People come and go in your life. Even family members can become distant with time.  But you are the only person who has to live your life day to day.  You are also the only person you have to answer to in the long run. 

Do what makes you happy as long as those choices bring no one any real injury.  Perhaps you cannot give as much of your time to your favorite charity or participate in those family activities that you have once been a stable aspect at. But in the long run finding your own bliss will make you a much better person. More centered and more stable for all those who remain in your life.

You cannot be happy with others until your first learn to be happy with yourself.  You cannot center your world around another person no matter how much you love them. Children grow up and move on with their lives. Parents grow older and die and loved ones may come and go.  Those are changing aspects of your life.  They are not stationary nor are they permanent.  Nothing in life is guaranteed, not even our next breath.  So why put off your dreams until another day when there may or may not be another day in your future.

I am not saying to quit your job and move to Tibet to follow some Eastern religion. I am not saying to divorce your spouse of several decades simply because at the moment they may not quiet fit into your ideal world as you see it. I am saying take time for yourself. 10 minutes a day or one day a week, or something that makes you a priority.

You don't have to be a slave of the universe you only have to do what makes life more bearable.  Something I have learned in the last year of this journey of self exploration. I am far more capable than I originally thought.  Yes many things still scare me and yes I am still not quiet brave enough to do all the things I want to try, but with baby steps I am approaching those things with a new perspective.

We as human beings evolve and change with time, and experiences. We learn new ways to approach problems and new ways to interact with our global community.  There is no right or wrong way to approach something, only ways we haven't tried or ways we did and that didn't work.  We have to think outside the box sometimes and we have to know that although we may fall down or fail we still continue on.

We learn in this life that we are not always right but we are never always wrong.  That we learn as we go and by expanding our horizons and stepping outside our comfortable boundaries we are capable of being so much more than we began.  That life is ever changing and that we as humans are constantly learning. Think about where we would be if ever invention ever created was stopped because their first attempt failed.  How far we would have progressed as a people and as a society if we had patiently waited for our ideas to catch up with our real lives.

Once upon a time being an independent writer took years to accomplish.  And for many it was a dead end dream. Now with the stroke of a key we can publish our ideas and our thoughts and make them publicly seen.  We can write blogs create videos we share on our networking sites and share with the world our brilliance and our failures.  We as a global community are learning to live in harmony with all gods creatures both human and animal and to try to live in harmony within ourselves and our habits. To leave a smaller carbon footprint and learning form others skills that without the internet we may have never been exposed to.

The world is your oyster all you have to do is belly up to the buffet.  You can research any subject that intrigues you via youtube and google or bing at no cost to your household.  You can get ideas on how others have done things via networking sites by simply asking your friends.  You can learn from others and share your own experiences in hopes of encouraging others to follow their own bliss.

Be that in photography, writing, glass blowing, or sky diving.  We can live vicariously through first person videography and feel our hearts race as we try new things and push out towards new perimeters in our life.  We are only restricted by the boundaries we place on ourselves.  The man who says he cannot probably won't.  The one who believes anything is possible will always succeed in the end.  The journey and the direction is up to you.

I wanted to share this for those who are following me or who read my blog to hopefully give them strength and knowledge that failure does not define you, it only helps you figure out what works and what doesn't.  Where your true passions lie and what makes you happy. Discovering who you are is a journey within our own souls.  It helps us define who we are in the bigger scheme of things.  It also helps us expand our knowledge and continue to grow as people and as citizens of our global community.

I am proud to say I have reached my first goal with the blog it has been read over 1,000 times in less than a year.  I am very proud of the blogs I have written and the things I have learned along the way.  I have explored things that terrified me and done things that I never thought possible until now.  I now know that nothing is impossible if I am determined enough and want them bad enough. That the only thing to fear is fear itself and that I will be made better for having taken this journey.

I hope my words give you food for thought. I hope that everyone who reads these words take a long hard look at their own lives and figure out what is working and what isn't. That they on occasion take that walk on the wild side and truly live.  Life isn't about how many breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.  Live life to the fullest. Never forget that there is so much out there that you haven't tried or tasted or experienced.  Never stop learning and know that you will be a better more rounded person for the effort of this journey. 

Who knows you may even learn that something you have hated your entire life when prepared a different way or approached with a different mind set is now your absolute favorite thing in the world.

Until next time blog buddies. Stay safe, stay sane, and be happy.

An amazing shot I never could have gotten if 
I allowed my fear of spiders to dictate 
what I was capable of.

Another Amazing shot I would have missed if I 
had not stepped outside my comfort zone to explore 
new boundaries.

Not my photo but one that inspired me on a networking site.  
Hoping that is does the same for my readers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reflections on the Journey so far

I began this journey to reconnect with what was important in my life. To actually do something for myself. Sometimes in the day to process we loose touch with the real us. We are so busy being someone's parent, or someone's spouse, or someone's child that we forget that deep down inside us burns a fire a passion for something that even if we haven't moved forward with it we have still dreamed about it.  That we may ignore what our true mission is in this lifetime but it never goes away. It is always lurking around every corner and invading our dreams both waking and asleep.

Sometimes we all need to take two steps back from our day to day lives just to get a reality check on what we are doing for ourselves. Now if you are juggling a full work load at home, work, school or whatever you do with your time many times it isn't the easiest thing to do. Some people have told me that they would love to follow their bliss but there just isn't enough hours in the day.  That they would take a measure of those internal qualities that make them unique but they just don't have the energy.

That they would follow or do things that make them happy but they are so busy existing they don't have time to truly live. I say only because at this point it just isn't important enough to make the time.  When a friend becomes ill or a family member is given a terminal diagnosis you make the time to go visit and spend time with them because you know how short their time on this planet is.  But how many of us take the time to actually invest some time in ourselves.

Something I have learned during this journey is I cannot relinquish my happiness into the hands of others. I cannot give that power away because as hard as they may try they cannot make me happy. Only I have that ability and only I can make myself miserable.  At some point you have to realize that the only person on this planet who controls you, is You.  Your boss may manipulate your time and even your energy, but there is other jobs out there and that can change. You can get downsized or fired. You place of business could be destroyed by a natural disaster or financial crisis.  You control that if you realize it or not.

Sometimes even if we don't want to look within our own souls and take measure of our life, life will decide it is time to take a reality check. This has recently happened to me and I have had to take a long hard look at my life and decided exactly what I want and what I have to do to make it a reality.  I cannot patiently wait around for life to find the course I am meant to travel, I have to take stock of my gifts and my talents and decide where do I go from here.

It isn't easy to admit your shortcomings but for many it is even harder to admit your talents.  Sometimes we are oblivious to what is right in front of our noses because for whatever reason we refuse to admit that we have gifts. We are all born with innate skills that with practice or dedication improve. That we can do what makes us happy even if for a short period of time in our day to day lives.

Following your bliss isn't going to always be easy, you are going to have to work at it to make it happen. You are going to have to face down those in your life who may be threatened by your dreams and fearful that your changing may make them loose the control they exert over your life. That if you grow stronger and wiser and happier that somehow that will threaten their very existence and make you realize that they aren't a needed character in your life.

I know that during my own personal journey I have cut a few people from my circle of friends. I have had to make the hard decision what was working for me and what wasn't. But to be completely honest I haven't regretted a single change I have made nor have I ever gone back and re added those negative people to my life.  I have limited access to those I could not remove so that they no longer control how I feel about myself and about my dreams.  And yes sometimes it is very difficult to cut those ties. Sometimes it is a friend you may have known for decades, sometimes it is a new relationship that you had very high hopes for, but in order to succeed sometimes you have to make those hard decisions and what is truly in your best interest.

Some people will feel that you are changing in ways that aren't as beneficial as you believe them to be. To those I say change means revamping and making sure the decisions you are making are getting you closer to those goals.  It means stepping outside those normal boundaries and trying something different or even doing something so completely out of character that is surprises even yourself.  It means taking a walk on the wild side and taking those baby steps towards your long term goals, even if you may not know absolutely what those goals may be. It is a journey of self exploration and self examination to find what brings you the most happiness.

Life is a journey, it begins when you are born into this world. You come into existence screaming and kicking and you can either go silent and follow the pack, or you can continue to scream and kick and get somewhere. As children we learn by example and by experience. Why would that change simple because we are out of short pants and learned to walk.  Every experience you have in this lifetime good or bay helps form the person you will become by the end of this journey.

It will help form your opinions and attitudes towards different things and let you know where your gifts lie.  It will help you see the world with a clearer view, much like a photographer slowly adjusting their focus ring, no longer simply seeing what the camera wants you to see but what you choose to see.  It will enlarge the circle of people you share your life with and hopefully introduce you to new idea and new thinking patterns. It will widen your circle of knowledge and help you understand things from a new perspective and a new view on the world at large.

They say the two biggest growth experiences you can have are higher education and travel. For many of us neither is a real option. Most people are destined to spend their entire lives living out their days within the boundaries of the country of the birth. A larger percentage of folks never make it beyond high school, for economic reasons or no interest in furthering their education. But that doesn't mean you cannot grow, it simply means those are the two ways that are the most advantageous for growth.

You can experience new cultures and new ideas thanks to the world wide web. I have friends now that are located all over the globe, many I chat with on a daily basis from as far away as India and Australia and I reside in the United States.  I watch videos about foreign places I may never see with my own eyes and I dream about what it must be like to experience those places first hand. I have standing coffee dates with many of my distant friends just encase I ever do manage to see those exotic locations first hand.

If life is a journey I have every intention on leaving this world with every country stamp I can on my passport of knowledge.  I have a desire to learn and to grow and to evolve. Not simply for economic reasons but also for personal reasons.  The mind is a sponge that absorb so much more than most people every realize, never stop learning no matter what your age.  I pick up words in foreign languages rolled them across my tongue experiencing their flavor and texture like a wine connoisseur experiencing a rare vintage bottle of wine.  I try recipes from far away lands to bring the local flavor home, knowing that experiencing them first hand would be so much better but making due because of budget limitations.

I read literature written by wise people from all over the globe and from all religious followings, simply because I am not limited by the wisdom of only my own base.  I take what I need and file away what I don't and are safe in the knowledge that I all the wiser for having considered it.  I try to keep an open mind and I don't judge others regardless of the differences we may have simple because I may miss out on some amazing experiences if I limit my exposure to people simply based on different ways we live our lives.

I know that not everyone is blessed enough to be raised in a nurturing environment that encouraged growth and self discovery. That many of us were raised in very strict homes and taught to only follow the norm. To never step outside the boundaries placed around us by our elders, society, and even our own families.  That we were raised to believe a set way and think a certain way and to be distrustful of strangers.  But as my husband keeps telling me I would talk to trees if they don't run away screaming and I have never met a stranger.  I even make new friends while standing in line at the cashier or sitting alone in a park or a shopping mall.  I believe that we all have a common ground finding that common ground can be challenging but people are people regardless of where they call home or what they do for a living.

Our global community is getting smaller every day.  In my parents time they only knew people they had met face to face, usually folks they worked with, went to church with, or knew through family.  But in this amazing era we live in that is no longer the case. Networking sites like Facebook and Myspace has opened those boundaries wide open and allowed us to communicate with others from all over the world. Translator programs now allow you read foreign newspapers in your own native tongue and see first hand what people in other countries are doing and how they see their world.

One of my favorite things to do is go to some of the mainstream media news sites for places like China and Japan and read about what they deem to be newsworthy. Many times you can get an inside track on the mindset of others by simply reading their news.  You can see that they experience many of the same things we do in our own Countries of origin and that they too are parents, siblings, and have children.  That they too worry about getting older or money issues, or even how to do what makes them happy.  That although we may be very different, in both appearance and cultures, we are all human beings and as such need to learn to connect with others along our path and grow stronger as a planet not simply as separate countries.

That is my words of wisdom for todays submission to my blog. It is a rainy Monday here and my only real escape is my writing and my exploring the world via the internet. But that doesn't stop me, it simply means I have to do my exploring mentally instead of physically today.  It means that I will spend my days chatting with those in other countries usually the middle of the night for them is the middle of the day for me.  And I will continue to explore and learn and grow.

I hope my words today have given you some food for thought. It has given you some new ideas and ways that you can explore your world and widen your horizons. That is inspires you to step outside your normal day to day box and learn something about a new culture, try a new dish, or even learn a new language.

Until next time blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane, and be happy.

Some of the Beautiful Animals I photographed during my trip to the Local Zoo

For those curious on how I got such amazing photos through glass I used a polarization filter on my DSLR to make the glass disappear in my shots. the last photo was taken by my husband with my point and shoot camera during our great adventure.

Babysteps towards the new Me

There has been some pretty major changes in my life of late. I have run out of funding for my education and am having to work through some mental hurdles that have come due to those changes in my life. I made the honor roll for my last in school session, which made me feel a little better about what is going on. But it has left me with no plan and no goal to work towards. I still want to finish my degree but am exploring alternative ways to go about that. I am not very far from having the credits I need to graduate and I plan on utilizing what ever I can to make that happen. But right now am sorting through everything and figure out who I am now and what I want to put as my long term goal.

After my last class I am reanalyzing my goals of being a CPA. I enjoy bookkeeping and financial advising and even taxation and how to advice people to keep the most they can in their pocket and make the most of the money they have coming in, but I do not see myself in a corporate position nor do I desire to have a ordinary run of the mill career. I know this may make it sound like I am unsure of what I do want but sometimes it is much easier to pin point what I don't want than what I do.

I have begun the search for a job that I really want to do. Something to work towards and trying to figure out what steps I need to take to make that dream a reality.  I am enjoying the photography, it helps me to sort things out. I actually took a trip to our local zoo and got some incredible shots of the animals and learned that you don't have to travel to actually photograph more exotic animals.

I have been going through my wardrobe to find out exactly what I have clothing wise, which also helps me sort things out in my head and get my bearings.  I can see where I have been and what I was thinking by looking at some of my clothing choices in the past.  I can remember the things that were important to me last year or before that and know that I am no longer that person.  The ideals and dreams have been stripped away to reveal the bones of my life as it currently is.

As I sort through stack after stack of clothing choices my mind is flooded with memories of wearing this outfit or that to an event shared with my family or for a meeting with those who I once believed held my future in their hands.  I can remember the things that were running through my head and the beliefs I once held firm to.  I can see the changes in my body brought about by healthier eating habits and healthier activities.  I actually walked the entire zoo non stop for 4 hours with a camera bag on my back and never once did I get winded or tired.  That for me is a major accomplishment.  I was so engrossed by what I was doing that I didn't even notice I was wringing wet from the heat and activity, to me it was normal and just part of the experience.

I slowly put each item out for inspecting and trying on. Noticing how clothing that once fit my more rounded figure now hang loose or clothes that once didn't quite look right because of the cut or the style suddenly fit my changing body and mind like a guiding hand helped me choose them.  It is a growing experience long over due.

I have realized that my priorities are also changing and how I feel about some of the people in my life is no longer the same. The core of my world is the same but I now see people with clearer eyes and a more accurate image of them. I understand that we are all human and as such we all make mistakes in the growth process called life.  I understand now that we all have goals and dreams and sometimes those things that are so incredibly important to us means nothing to those around us.  Sometimes we are blessed enough to have people around us who support those dreams and goals and sometimes we aren't.  Depending on the goals and dreams and depending on the people we surround ourselves with.

I have also found that no matter what I am the coordinator of my own destiny and only I can make or break those goals into a reality.  I began this blog as a journal of sorts, a way to track my progress and help me understand where I am and where I am going. To help me help others to be brave and hopefully follow their own bliss into being the people they were born to be.

Be that to take the leap into doing something so totally out of the norm that before they never would have been brave enough to try. Or maybe just to finally let go of their past and begin living for their future.  Either way I help I feel that by doing that I can better help myself and hopefully have a positive impact on my world at large.

I have discovered that although my ideals and dreams are changing, this isn't a bad thing.  That sometimes we think we know exactly where we are headed only to learn that we have taken a turn that lands us in a foreign place and perhaps a better place than we would have ended up at had we stuck to the original game plan.

I am still not 100% sure what I want out of life, but I feel with each passing day I am getting closer and that the choices I have made and the changes I have allowed to occur in my life are for the better.  They have given me a chance to not only get to know myself a little better but to also know those I share my life with a little better as well. I have seen a side of them I would never have seen if I had stuck the main stream ideals I so firmly held to before beginning this journey.

I have seen the changes and thanks to the entries in this blog and the entries in my personal journal I am able to look back and see them more clearly.  I am able to see what is truly important to me and what I need to do to take the next steps to make my life what I want it to be.

I know this may seem like a lot of rambling, and perhaps it is.  But to me it makes perfect sense and hopefully if you are reading this you will gleam something from it that will make you take a closer look at your own life and hopefully make some changes or adjustments for the better.

Change is never easy but at times it is very necessary.  In order to grow as both a person and a human you have to adapt or perish.  You have to master new skills and release old grievances in order to fully live.  You cannot live in the past because is behind you.  You cannot live in the future for it is uncertain. You can only life in the present and take each day as it comes.  But you can plan and dream of what you want and take active steps to make it a reality instead of sitting around waiting for it to come to you.

I still believe that everything happens for a reason and sometimes we just not blessed with enough knowledge to understand why something that feels so incredibly horrible and painful can be beneficial in the long run.  Sometimes change hurts, sometimes it hurts so bad you don't think you will ever get past it or survive it.  But the reality of life is this, life continues on. Days becomes night and months pass far to quickly the older you get and sooner or later you have to stop for a moment and just enjoy the beauty that surrounds us all, I learned that one from the photography.  It has taught me to look closer at situations and to take things for what they are, and at times to change that perspective a little so you can get a clearer picture of what is really going on in your life.

You won't always get what you want, sometimes you will get what you want the least. But eventually situations change, because change is inevitable and you cannot escape it.  People come and go, jobs change and management is replaced with new leadership.  You cannot control every aspect of your life but many things you can change and the first and foremost you have control over is how you react to those changes.

If you need to get mad then get mad, if you need to shed a tear then do so, without the fear that others will think you are weak or that your outburst will be judged by those who love you. We all have bad days even those of us who always do their best to look on the bright side of life.  Know that you are not alone but at the same time you are an individual and that we each have our own dreams and goals.

Never be afraid to follow your dreams, never be afraid to try and make your goals a reality.  Life is way to short to be miserable and if you allow others to keep you from doing what makes you happy you will find yourself regretting listening to someone who wouldn't hesitate to follow their own dreams or do whatever was necessary to make their reality yours.  Never listen to negative people and don't allow their negativity to infringe on your happiness.  Do what makes you happy even if it is only a few moments of your day, or a few hours out of your week.  Take baby steps and learn what you need to do to make your goals your reality.  Take that mountain one step at a time and eventually you will find yourself on top of the world looking back on your path and knowing that although it took you a while to get there that you did it and that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.

I hope my blog entry today has given you some food for thought. I hope that it has given you something to think about and that you make just one tiny change in your immediate universe for the better. Do something so not your norm that you experience an emotion or even a thought that you wouldn't had you stayed within the boundaries we all surround ourselves with to give us the impression of being in complete control of our life.

Take a walk on the wild side and live life. I tell people I don't want to arrive at my grave in perfect condition and an orderly fashion I want to slide in sideways screaming "What a ride".  Follow your bliss because it isn't going to magically appear on your doorstep, you gotta go out there do the work and find that very elusive creature.  It exist but will only show itself to those who believe enough in it and who are willing to do the work required to make it a reality.

Until next time blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane and be happy.

This is a video of famous failures that continued to dream and continued to try to make their dreams and goals a reality. I hope it inspires my readers as much as it inspires me.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Minor setbacks and Major accomplishments

Sometimes live gives you lemons.  What you do with those lemons is really up to you.  You can wallow in self pity and say "Woe is me" or you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off and move forward with your dreams and goals.  I never promised you a rose garden but I did promise you that if you take the time to follow your bliss your life will be a life well lived.

I have been wallowing in self pity.  It seamed that everywhere I looked all I saw was failure.  I was unhappy with the way my education was going, I was unhappy with how my finances were going. I couldn't afford the photo equipment I wanted and to be completely honest some times I just felt like I was beating my head against a brick wall.

First one thing and then another pushed me back first a step then two until I came to the realization that the only thing that was holding me back was me. I was allowing these minor setbacks to dictate how I would feel and how I would live my life.  So I did what I always tell others to do when all else fails, try something different.

First my funding for my education has been revamped and it looks like I won't be graduating when I planned.  But is that stopping me no.  I refuse to allow something as minor as funds stop me from becoming what I am destined to be.  So I picked myself up dusted myself off and said OK the traditional way of doing this isn't going to work for me what else can I do to get where I want to be. 

I contacted my school and discussed testing out of some of my classes with them. It is not only doable it is cheaper than the credit hours I need to finish my degree.  I also learned I can continue my education independently.  I can take classes at my local community college and apply those credit hours as I can afford them to my long term goal of having my masters degree in accounting.

I learned that some colleges will even let you write essays and papers regarding your life experiences in order to skip classes and qualify for what is commonly called amongst the secondary schools as life credits.  That was a huge relief off my shoulders.

Now for my photography.  Well money is tight, I have some previous medical bills, my darling husband is getting ready to go under the knife and unfortunately our insurance doesn't cover 100% of our medical expenses.  Yet another set back at least financially, so I came up with alternative ways to earn the equipment I want to invest in photo equipment and creative ways to earn some extra cash not only to help pay for our increasing medical bills but to also help carve the path I choose to follow for my bliss which includes photography.  I also discovered a lot of the fancy equipment can be made out things as simple as a car window reflector instead of a light bouncing board, and something as simple as a sheet mounted to the ceiling with thumb tacks works great as a simple backdrop for doing portraits.

In the meantime though I am doing freelance writing and that is going to pay for those wonderful toys that I day dream about, and that cannot be made at home from simple materials.  I have already paid for a macro tube and a remote trigger for my camera using the credits I earned doing reviews of products I use and liked.

I also learned I can sell my photos online and make a little mad money.  It isn't instant cash but it is a doable source of income for my creative outlet and it gives me a chance to share some of my photos with the world at large. I am no longer content to simply share my photos on facebook and other networking sites. I want to sell my art work to those who may lack the imagination or ability to do their own.

I guess what I am trying to get at in this blog is if you want something bad enough regardless what mountains may stand in your way use your brain to figure out how to make it happen.  Don't give up just because it isn't easy. Nothing in life worth having is simple or easy. Things don't come to those who dream about them, they come to those who get out there bust their butts and make it happen.  Don't wait for destiny to come to you. Go out grab her by the ears and say "listen here, this is going to happen you can either help or get out of my way, because either way its going to happen". 

I have wallowed in self pity long enough. I have pissed and moaned about how sucky my life is right now and you know what I am over it.  I am tired of being a victim of circumstance. I am tired of things I have no control over ruling my world.  I am tired of being sad and depressed and beaten down by the life I have been given. It is time for me to stand up and say "My Turn". 

Regardless what mountains or speedbumps may lie in my path, I am going to do what makes me happy.  If those in my life cannot get on board then they can be left in my wake.  I am not hurting anyone with my bliss I am not taking valuable time away from things that need doing.  I am simply making the investment in my own happiness to chase my own dreams and live my own life.  It aint perfect and I really didn't expect it to be.  But I am keeping it real and that is the whole purpose for this blog.

Sharing my ups and downs and hopefully inspiring others to chase those dreams they dare to dream.  The world is filled with a wide variety of people. We all have gifts and talents that we are born with, and if your talents take you on a path you might not have envisioned for yourself all the better.  Stepping outside your comfort zone is good for you. It helps build character and it helps you discover who you truly are.

So if I have to impart a single piece of advise to you at this junction, it would be this.  Be who you truly are.  Not who you think you should be, not who you family and friends want you to, but who you truly are. Those who truly love you will accept who you are and those who don't well you don't need that kind of negative energy in your life anyway.

Until next time blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane, and be happy.

When I first took this shot I didn't post it or share it because to me it wasn't good enough but the longer this sat in my photo folder and I saw it every time I scrolled through to look at new shots I thought to myself, it is a very simple shot but it isn't spectacular.  Sometimes things in life aren't going to be spectacular. Sometimes simple things can bring you the most joy because they aren't complicated or high tech. Sometimes we have to say to ourselves it isn't good enough by who's standards?  I think this is a beautiful shot. It is Mother Nature at her finest. It isn't an exotic flower or an incredible rose but it is still beautiful in its simplicity.  It is what life is all about. Thriving where you are planted and learning to overcome what may prevent you from thriving. It is the nature of the beast, it is life in its simplest form.  Have you ever tried to kill a weed?  You pluck it and you poison it and you mow it down. Some people even try burning them out and yet they keep coming back.  Be like that weed, no matter what gets thrown at you remember if a simple life form such as a weed can come back from everything life throws at it, why can't you?