New Year, new intention and words

Reflect and Celebrate!

Welcome to year 2021 at The Photographist Life! What a ride 2020 was, were you white knuckling it, or did you just say the hell with it and you rolled with all the throat punches the year delivered? I rolled quite a bit and delivered a few punches myself, I am adaptable that way! I recently set my last lunar intention of 2020, the cycle began in 2020 and is ending in 2021, and instead of saying bu-bye to 2020, I said a great big thank you. You all know I’m not typical!

My lunar intention for the last moon cycle of the year 2020 was to release all of what did not serve me, to be grateful for all of the lessons and positivity, and to usher in 2021 by being thankful for all of those things, as they only served my highest good. Gratitude is seriously underrated, in many aspects of life, even in the “bad” things, and it is often a contradicting concept. Got punched in the face by 2020? Say thanks because odds are you learned from it, you grew and at minimum you will change directions because of it.

You see where I am at currently with my mindset in this cycle’s intention, coincidently the last of the year, but where am I heading??? This year I am ADVANCING. This is my word for 2021. 2020’s word was ACHIEVEMENT, which I most certainly did, I embodied and rocked, but when I contemplated what my word would be this year, I questioned how last year’s word served me, how I could grow from that, did the word encompass enough of what I meant by claiming ACHIEVEMENT, and you know what, it did but it didn’t. How could I advance from achieving, what would that entail, what in particular do I even mean???

When you choose your word of the year, there should be thought as to the direction you came from and the direction you wish to go. I also think you need to have room for the ebbs and flows, as well as have some specific ideas about what you want to see or get done this year. So I did just that, I was very general in claiming ADVANCING as my word because I want more continued momentum and growth, but also knew that I could springboard growth and progress, lots of forward movement off of that word too.

I write year goals for my physical health, my mental health, my emotional health, my family, this blog, my photography business, my massage therapy practice and my SOUL. When you set an intention/goal, it should be something lofty, but also something that you can whittle down for manageability, or fine tuning, and at worst, something you can ditch now and pick up later. In the event you reach that lofty goal, you can add to your intention the next lunar cycle. The point is, aim high, don’t settle but be realistic that you made need smaller steps to accomplish the necessary steps to achieve that big goal…you keep ADVANCING, even if you have to step back from time to time, fine tune your steps, or bail altogether for this go round.

Want to know the goal that I have for this little blog of mine? It is to grow, to utilize this place as a tool of communication, to showcase my photography that I randomly capture just by living and to treat this place as a sacred space. I think that is all doable, but my first step is to just be consistent.

I have lacked consistency writing here, for a while I needed the blog to help me heal and learn so I could grow. I used my writings for that, but this space was never intended for that purpose, I am however grateful for the ability to be able to write to release and learn, I highly recommend journaling for that purpose too. I will be working not only on my consistency in writing, but my consistency of content. I would like to develop a bit of a schedule so that you may know what to anticipate. You will hopefully forgive me if and when I slip in this endeavor, but by being intentional, I hope the slippage is minimal!

I often start my intention work with saging my space and myself, clearing negativity so I may work for my highest good.

So what do you have planned for 2021? Do you have a word of the year? Do you have a goal let alone multiple goals? Whatcha planning this year, whatcha want to get done? How do you want to learn, progress and grow? I love hearing about what you are doing/wanting to do, so drop me a line!

Be True to You

LOVE my mug from Biers Run Mudd

“If I don’t think I’m awesome, who will?”

Growing up, I lived bedside my grandma. I could go to her house anytime I wanted, I could spend all day long with her, and many times I did. Our days almost always started the same way, with us sitting on her front porch, often times a bible in her hand. It was a usual occurrence for her to read me a bible verse and then we would discuss it, sharing our thoughts and viewpoints on what we thought it meant or what we took away from it.

Looking back now, I realize just how much that woman taught me about life, how well she prepared me to be a good adult, how she showed me to be a supportive, caring individual. And honestly, she gave me a guiding source that has helped me navigate life’s waters. I have strayed at times from what she has taught me, and every time I do, I realize something. When there is a trusted source, a tried and true method, you are a fool to not return to what you know works.

I have been on a deeply personal journey for a while now, and something almost two years ago struck me when I was at a New Year’s Day intention setting event at my favorite yoga studio. I had forgotten myself. I had betrayed myself. I had abandoned myself. I chose to allow someone else to dictate my life to me, for the reasons I now know are asinine, but reasons nonetheless. It was during prompts, meditation and quiet reflection that I heard myself say something to my grandma…”If I don’t think I’m awesome, who will?”. That was eye opening to have that come up at that moment.

My intention rock~Rainbow Yoga

I remembered that it doesn’t matter what face we put on for others, how we appear, what others think of us. What matters is what we think of ourselves, who we answer to and how true we are to ourselves in those things. We can look like the most put together creature on earth, but maybe we are screaming inside. And what good are we doing ourselves if we are choosing something that does not jive with us, for someone else’s sake???

Ironically, I equate peacock feathers with my grandma. She always had this large blue vase that she kept a bunch of the feathers in, and we(my cousins and I), would get one out to play with when permitted. The feathers look like they have eyes on them, as if they see you, like an all seeing eye. Peacocks are gorgeous creatures, but they let out the most awful screeches at times, but that is the peacock, they make no apologies for their dichotomy of painful sounding beauty. When I set my intention that New Year’s Day, I knew that it had to be, “Be True to You”, accompanied with a peacock feather and a heart.

We must love ourselves, in our truth. We must see what is for us in our truth. We must allow others to see us, in our ugly, in our beauty, in our truth. Not all will be able to witness you in your truth, and that is okay, but for those that do, they may be inspired and create something magical, something deeply resonating for them and for others, and for you.

My amazing friend Rachel did such a thing, and when she gave me my mug, I waved it around my neighborhood(no one was looking, lol), proclaiming that I was special because it had two feathers! I didn’t tell Rachel, but that was the most wonderful thing, two feathers, because that was one for me and one for grandma. It is a reminder that she is always with me, that the lessons taught are always there, that I am to always think I am awesome, that I must be true to me, and above all, that I am true to the one above because he has never failed me(even though I have felt like it), and putting my energy into my belief, can and has done wondrous things in my life.

Thank you Rachel for your friendship, for sharing your gifts, and for being an amazing magical soul. Be True to You. 🦚❤️

Be True to You🦚❤️

Teach Peace

Rachel Sheppard of Biers Run Mudd is the artist and genius behind this mug, to learn more about her and her amazing story, click the picture and it will take you to her FB page!

When I was young, I purposely decided to change my life. I did not like how my life was going, I did not like how I felt about it, and I did not like a lot of things I did either. Self awareness showed me that I didn’t like these things, and because of that, I could continue down the path I was on, or I could make some changes and redirect my path. This was not something I entered in to lightly, it required a spiritual perspective, some guidance from above, and some self discipline to get to where I wanted to go, because when you ask for guidance, it is given if you are willing to seek it.

“This symbol; also known as the circle of birth, death and rebirth, like the wheel of the seasons and the evolution of the universe from the singularity of the divine thus considered as a shape of energy that evolved order out of chaos.”-rejects.com I could not agree more!

Every day that you practice self betterment in spirituality, is a day you are wiser and kinder to others and yourself. This provides more opportunity for gratitude, also to self and others. This causes expansion of your heart, soul and mind, and in turn, it provokes you to look for others more along the same lines.

When I was in 5th grade, I was pretty depressed. At the time, I did not realize that was what it was, but looking back, I realize I was heavily depressed. I don’t remember much from that time, but a few things stand out, one of those was kindness bestowed upon me from another school mate. This person had, and currently has no idea what their kindness did for me at that time. At a time I felt pretty dark and bleak, kind words and kind gestures from them, are one of only a handful of things I remember from that time. This has always stuck with me, as this person always seemed kind to me all through school, and is still kind to this day.

Rachel often gives these tokens in accompaniment with her pieces. They are part of her Mudd Movement, click the picture to read more about it!

I had the opportunity to get to know this person a little better as an adult. As kids we never ran in the same circles, but as adults, we have more things in common. Anyhow, this person still shows a lot of grace and kindness, not just towards me, but to so many people that we both know. I think it is safe to say that this person has not always had it easy, and has been through their share of crap in life, but it hasn’t diminished their kindness in life, perhaps it has made it grow, I will have to ask about that.

This person recently gifted me with an item, it was completely unexpected, it wasn’t because I was feeling down or anything like that, this person gifted me just because they could, and wanted to. This is humbling when someone does this for you, and it makes you pause and take your own acts of random kindness in to consideration, not in a keeping score sort of way, but more so in an inspirational sort of way. It asks you to look at what you can do for others, how you can help, or how you might brighten someone’s day, just because you can.

On the back of the token and on Rachel’s pieces, you will find an acorn! Click on the picture, and you will be taken to Rachel’s FB page where you can learn more!

This mug, and token, are so much more symbolic for me than just a random act of kindness. “Teach Peace” speaks volumes about my soul and my spirituality. My massage therapy business is called “Inner Peace”, because I want to help people feel and find inner peace within themselves. This all harkens back to the changes I purposely made for myself when I was young. Just because we may not like ourselves or the things we do at some point in time, does not mean that we never get to like or love ourselves, it does not mean that we are irredeemable, it does not mean that we are destined to suffer for an eternity. No, it means that we can choose to work on these things, work on ourselves, we can live the lives that we choose and deserve because we are willing to show ourselves grace and kindness, forgiveness too.

This token is riding around with me, and when the time presents itself to pass it to someone that needs some peace, I will gladly keep the Mudd Movement going!

I want people to feel lightened of their bodily burdens of pain and dysfunction, to know that they can move forward and make changes that are good for them mind, body and soul. I want people to feel they are unconditionally loved when they are in my presence, that they know that I will not judge them, but I will help them. I hope for people to make the choice to free themselves of the earthly burdens that they carry around, and to know that by doing so, they are inviting and accepting Inner Peace in to their lives.

Because I asked for help and guidance all those years ago, and I received grace of lifting my own burdens, I knew it was part of my purpose to help “Teach Peace”. This gift that truly encapsulated my life, astounded me. It was a bombardment of love, caring, kindness, grace and gratitude all at once. I was so overwhelmed by the thought of this friend, by the maker of this mug, by the way our world works in fates, by guidance from above, and most of all, by the way people are so connected in loving, caring ways, as displayed in the making, giving, and receiving of this one mug. Crazy good stuff. Thank you friend for simply being you, you are loved, valued, and appreciated. Thank you Rachel for not just making a mug, but for making a Movement too!❤️

Evolution of a Soul

How have you been? Apparently I have been absent since July, so my expected readership is ZERO. That isn’t really true, I expect 5 people to read this. 5 is a good number, not round, but full nonetheless. I am not exactly sure where this post is going to take me, if it will be a one and done or so lengthy that it has to become a series. Here is what I will tell you though, it will not include any photos or visual gems, it will be all words instead. So, if verbose people being authentic telling their story isn’t your thing, then you are probably not 1 of those 5 people.

So, where have I been since July? I have been taking care of myself, and I don’t have any plans to stop that, at all. You see, I did not take care of myself for the longest time. I never went to the doctor, not even annual appointments, I put myself last for everything, or didn’t even consider myself as important enough to care for, in any way. This post is not meant to be a downer, nor a bid for attention, but to be an honest wake up for someone out there. I needed a wake up, and I got one in July, apparently after hitting snooze one too many times!!

In July, I really wasn’t certain I was going to survive, but I am a survivor and a fighter, and patient and observant, so I just kept pressing on, but not really living, nor enjoying life. I had been living a nightmare for years, YEARS!! As I have mentioned before, I had Bell’s Palsy last year, which in my opinion was a result of all of the stress I had been under for years, that reached a major breaking point. After Bell’s, I thought(ha ha) that I was on my way to better, which I was not, I was just under slightly less stress. I did invest in myself by going to yoga, and by being very vocal about the bs I was dealing with in the ways I was, but it was not as alleviating as I had hoped it all would be. To be honest, that left me feeling angry all the time, which, I was already angry at everything all the time anyhow, so it was truthfully compounding the problem, not helping it.

If you read my post from May titled “Challenging My Femininity”, then you know that I was having an issue with a friend that felt they knew me, better than I knew myself. They had all of these preconceived notions about me, and honestly, some of those things were perceptions based upon my behavior, but some of those things were projections as well. I can say this now, having done 6 months of deep soul retrieval, which this is not my first go round with soul retrieval, but my most recent, and probably what I feel is my most profound. On a side note, I did open my heart to this friend, and realized this fall out was not all her fault, but I owned some of it too.

You see, she was just an embodiment of what was a deeper issue for me. She always remarked about my masculinity showing as most dominant. At the time, I was pissed, I am a very feminine person! So why would she think this? I seriously pondered, obsessed, and hurt over this. Now, I always like to delve in to psychological growth, what am I covering, what am I projecting, what are my flaws and issues that hold me back, sabotage me/my life, because I want to live my best life for me and those around me, which we established I was not. Anyhow, after doing a lot of psychological work, I realized why I was showing her that side of me, pretty much all the time. I felt very threatened, like she was just one more person to not actually hear me and see me, even though I wasn’t being my whole self, not even close!! It was also my way of being heard and seen. It worked with her personal trauma, which I did not even recognize at the time. Honestly, I think we both wanted a friendship with each other, we just happened to bring out not good things in each other due to our personal traumas. I never told anyone the toxic life I was living, and I expected her to see through the facades to the real me that I was hiding, so I was angry with her for not seeing me, for bringing out this defensive side of me, and for her projecting or having a false opinion of me, but it was really my fault because that is what I showed her, right?

Not exactly. I don’t deny that my behavior showed one side of me, but her opinions and discussion of me with others and strangers that didn’t know me, was the thing that made me see that we couldn’t be close. When you form an opinion, based upon limited knowledge, and then seek validation from others on that opinion, you are not being objective to what you are seeing, so then you start projecting your own issues/traumas on people. See, people never truly show you all of themselves, at least not in an acquaintance or early friendship, but I never thought I knew all of her, or a fraction. I was just curious to see it all unfold, because that is how I am, a part of who I am.

Back to evolving. I realized that yes, I was in a very craptastic situation in life, but how was I being a contributor of my own problems? This is not the same as saying “It’s all my fault.” and being a victim of sorts, I had already been there before too, this was different. What traumas or even more so, what changes had I made to my behavior(s), what acommodations did I make for others, and just disguised those things as character traits, beliefs, or “responsibilities”? I started delving in to archetypes, how those applied to me in all areas of life, how those affected me, how that affected those around me…I was doing a bunch of Shadow work, the dark side of self that isn’t like an evil side of your light/white side, but of the deep things I lied to myself about, that I wasn’t aware of , or that I felt I had dealt with already, but clearly had not.

Once I broke these archetypes down, something was still missing. I still felt something wasn’t right, I was missing something huge and I was hiding it from myself…and one thing kept playing in my mind. Someone commented on my “Challenging My Femininity” post, to open my throat chakra and speak my truth. This kept ringing a bell, but of what kind, I wasn’t so sure. I mean, I am a very vocal person. I can tell you my likes, dislikes, my opinions, my experiences, words, words words…but was I really open to saying things I needed to say, very specific things? And was there a connection between the friend mentioned above and my sad ass situation? YES.

I have always allowed other people to feel more superior to me. Especially when I see they need to be the dominant one, to be in charge, to have the power. Personally, I know who I am, I know my strengths(and weaknesses), I know my capabilities, I know what I know, and I know how to know what I know. Cryptic, sure, but the point is, I don’t have to have power, dominance or control, mainly because I know I can be the power in the room, I know I can be the dominant one, I know I can be in control…but that doesn’t make me those things. Being open to all does. Being welcoming and all inclusive does. Being authentic does. Providing space for others to test their wings, to be seen and heard does. Having the utmost of ethics and integrity does. BUT, being HUMBLE, serving in humility, with an understanding of others’ situations, traumas and needs allows me to comfortably shift to a minor role in things, not the dominant power role that is easy and anyone can do.

This is a me issue. This is me being too accomodating at times. This is me appearing as something I am not and allowing room for erroneous judments and opinions. And this also allows for certain people/personalities to think they can run roughshod on me, subsequently me feeling hurt, bitter and angry. So what is a person to do? Well, sometimes you have to shut up, observe and listen to understand. And other times, you have to show your true self. The situation with that friend showed me where I was screwing up in so many ways, that my ability to hide myself to let others shine was actually causing me to lose myself, and thus causing a whole host of other problems.

So, I told my husband that I wanted a divorce because he did not hear me and see me. This was not the first time I had said this to him, but this time I actually meant it. Our relationship was so damn toxic, he was a pretty shitty human in a lot of ways, as he had been shown to be, as he had been reinforced to be, and as he had been enabled to be. THIS was what I was hiding from-myself and my situation-and I had been doing it for years. I was completely lost in his baggage, in his past, in his trauma which became my own. My own self lack lead me to that point. Feeling that I couldn’t be my own confident self for feeling that others needed it more than me was and is WRONG. Shrinking myself for others to such a point of self sacrifice was ludicrous, but it was what was expected of me, it was what I thought someone that felt unworthy and unloved needed, I thought it made him feel safe, and maybe in some small way it did, but it also blew up to epic proportions, fostering the lack in his soul, and the stall of growth in my own.

Some of you may be wondering why I am airing dirty laundry, and I will tell you this. Piss off, I am speaking my truth, the thing I have hid from for years, the thing I pretended didn’t exist, the thing I put a happy face on for others’ sake. No I am not telling you all of the things that have transpired, that is none of your business, but I am telling you that I have lived a very dark, isolated, lonely life for a very long time. I have had beautiful things in my life, my children, my friends, my experiences, and my memories, but dammit, I lost my magic, I lost my zest for life, and that was not worth staying in a horrible situation for. And in case you are wondering, I am not divorced nor getting one.

Everything works in it’s own timing, all things lead you to where you are supposed to be. When I told my husband I was leaving, and he saw that I wasn’t angry, but calm, resolved and clear headed, I think it dawned on him that everything I had been telling him about his own baggage was true. He received several confirmations of this in a multitude of ways, and I think he would even tell you that a light bulb went off. He has since started counseling, and he has become the person I always saw underneath. A good man whose soul has evolved, a man who loves the little boy inside of him, a man that feels worthy and knows that our past and our mistakes don’t define us if we choose for them to not define us, but that if we hold ourselves accountable and responsible, if we communicate with openness, and love from an unconditional heart, then we can live and lead a life worthy of us.

My soul is free to resume it’s own evolution. No one freed me, no one saved me, no one did those things because I did, I did those things by being willing to look at the ugliness, and my Shadow self. We only limit ourselves by choice, consciously or not, but always ultimately by our own choice. My husband and I both have a lot of room for growth, individually, and together in our relationship. We both are providing space for each other, we are both working towards a better self for a better us. No relationship is perfect, as we are proof of, but when you truly love and care about another person, you figure out how to walk a path together, for the betterment of all. We both feel like our marriage is actually just starting, and honestly, it feels terrific!

Stay tuned, my husband Bill will be contributing his own piece to The Photographist Life!

Transitions

In life, we will go through many transitions, and even transition within transitions. Some of these transitions will be joyous, some will be devastating, some will make us wonder how we got through and some will make us glad we had to change things. Hopefully though, we can see the beauty in any of these situations during or after, and that above all, we see the things that were required of us to transition and we marvel in our own personal strength.

Building Blocks

We start life with the building blocks of our parents and loved ones taking care of us, and showing us the way. The people before us lay the foundation not only for the starting point of our lives, but the way in which we may go about and pursue life, even showing us what our possible expectations in life could be. As we grow, we see the things we like about those building blocks, that we want for ourselves, and other times, we realize there is opportunity for transitions to occur to change our lives or our expectations that differ from the previous generations for our own growth. Neither is wrong, neither is right, just one is different than the other. For some, this can cause great relief to make a different choice, to reach out and grab what is meant for them, and their life. On the flip side of that, it can also result in strained relationships of those that came before you, because it may feel insulting to them, even though you just seek different from what they know. One of the most important pieces of wisdom a lot of us have been told in our lives from elders and older generation loved ones, is to not forget our roots, ie, the building blocks. Sound and sage advice my father and grandmother gave me at different times in my life, and the way that they both told me was said with love and reverence and told to me in positive situations. Those words have gotten me through some rough transitions in life, because there is support, caring and love there I could rely on.

Contemplation in Trust

As we grow and mature, finding our way out in this life, we refer back to those building blocks but look to forging a new way for ourselves. We are eager to try new things, go on new adventures, we long for life to keep us on our toes possibly not knowing if we’ll fall or not…but that doesn’t keep us from having confidence in ourselves, finding some flexibility and rushing head long into new territory. For some of us, this could be marriage, children, moving away from our childhood homes and towns, embracing our true identities or maybe all of that and then some! Life transitions start with choices, forced or not, and we may be pleasantly surprised by what is yielded, either way.

Lift Off

We have made some choices, we have learned from the bad and relished the good, but we benefit from both. Good choices always look good at the time, and maybe they will always be determined as a good choice, time tells. We do however benefit from the bad as well as the good. Now, I can say that terrible things happen and sadly, we can’t do anything about that. We can’t alternately make any choices to change things that have already happened. We don’t always know why bad things happen. Sometimes we can see the choices that lead to the bad thing, but we simply cannot undo it and there isn’t a thing we can do about it. This is when we make do have the option to make another choice, do we attempt to move on, or do we collapse, fall and never recover enough to try anymore or ever?

Transitions can be beautifully awkward

Our transitions can be foretelling, they can look effortless, pitiful, awkward or down right crazy. They can look all of those ways, that all depends on perspective, to you and those observing your transition. New jobs, weddings, babies, new homes, new cars, accomplishing goals like graduation from all levels of education, are all great transitions that generally bring about joy for those personally experiencing it and to those that have been supportive and part of your journey. Even the folks not directly involved in these transitions are joyful when included in celebrating these happy types of life events. Unfortunately, not all transitions look pretty or are fun. Those on the outside may have an idea what has and is happening, and some of those people may hold space for us to travel along on our journey, helping us along the way in subtle or obvious ways. Some people have absolutely no idea what has occurred, how it has affected you and they only see you at a rough patch that is a result of a tough transition, coming or going, maybe in process. Ironically, nothing is permanent, so whether a good or bad transition, we should always provide space for people and keep our observations limited to what we see…seeing is believing, but don’t believe we see everything there is to see.

Perseverance pays off

When things are good, things are great. When things are bad, well, that is STC, Subject to Change(thank you EJ Harris for reminding us of this, always). Things can look good on the surface, but be bad underneath. Things can look bad on the surface, but be healing underneath. Things can look effortless, but take a considerable amount of effort. Things can be easy today, rejoice, buy a lottery ticket perhaps. Maybe things are constant and stable, and you are itching for a change, or maybe you are thankful for the stability. The point is, have a good foundation for yourself, be flexible, give effort, celebrate the good things, be kind to yourself if you fall, and if you have to take a minute to breathe, steady yourself again and be ready for the next transition!

Thank you to my good friend Maria Murray for creatively collaborating with me on this post, for always providing me space to be me, for encouraging all of her students to breathe, to be kind to yourself and to love one another. If you would like to experience yoga transitions in Maria’s classes, you can find her at http://www.rainbowyogastudio.com

The Show Me State of mind

Have you ever noticed that some things in life come full circle without your desire, or consent, for it to do so? I recently experienced this phenomena, and let me tell you, it completely threw me for a loop! Cheesy pun, anyone…anyone?

I recently took a road trip with my family, including my mother, to Kansas City, Missouri. I started the journey on a positive note, expecting us all to make some memories and have a good time…and then I got sick the day before our departure, strep throat! Not to mention my friendly monthly visitor, could this trip NOT start any better?  The bad thing about once you have Bell’s Palsy, it leaves your system weak and open to some really whacked out occurrences. It magnifies the bad stuff when you are tired, sick, stressed or menstruating. Yay. Despite all of that fun stuff, I was still determined to make this trip a success!

Everyone was a lot of fun on the way out west, we drove the 10 1/2 hours straight, of course we made pit stops and ate dinner, but it was still an endurance test. I really am not sure how my husband drove all of that time and was still coherent and pleasant at the end when we checked in to our hotel, I know I would not have been, even on a good day. He did hit a wall at one point, but a little Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child” perked him enough to finish out to our arrival.

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People, there is a reason why Missouri is called the “Show Me State”. I have never seen storms, clouds, or sunsets the same caliber of gloriousness that Missouri showed us.  These photos do not do the scenes justice, you cannot imagine what a bunch of tourists we looked like rolling down the highway in a Suburban, snapping photos with cameras and cell phones. We were so cliche as Missouri asked her neighbors to hold her beer, delighting us with her incendiary behavior, showing us her goods and not being bashful nor apologetic about it.

Back to that full circle. See, I know this is not my best work, so that makes me question, were we really seeing Missouri’s best work? I truly don’t know. But, I do know that what we were seeing was damn good, it was good enough for us to appreciate it, memorialize it, and appreciate it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. This all translates to my own work. I can admit, it will probably never be good enough in my own eyes, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good enough, period. It may be a beautifully lit and captured image, but I will always see the flaws and things I could have done better. Does that mean the image is trash? Not by a long shot. It has redeeming qualities, some people will love it and appreciate it(thank you to the ones that do), and most importantly, it will spur me to capture better next opportunity.

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Why do I always think I am not good enough? Well, I figured that out on this trip too. I am good enough, for anything and everything. I deserve the world. Oh yeah, I am feeling myself and it is about time. Am I exactly where I want to be? No, but I know my finish will rival that of a Missouri sunset. Freaking Glorious. I will strive everyday for a better me, towards an amazing finish, in the distant future. Catch a glimpse of me when we pass on life’s highway, I’ll pay homage to you too with a salute of recognition and well wishes.

Life has a way of teaching you and showing you what it wants you to see, what you need to see, permission or not. And that is okay. It is all okay. It’s actually all good because it is preparing you for something better, a better life and a better you for sure. Who isn’t good with a better life and being a better version of themselves? I know I am, and like Missouri, it can keep showing me all day long.

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Things really have a way of being lit up when you are open and ready for it, even if you don’t know it. There is assurance in seeing what you didn’t think you needed to see, or what you simply weren’t seeing. We miss some of the best things when they are right in front of us, because we are looking, but we aren’t truly seeing. Like this building shown above, it was amazingly beautiful from my hotel window despite rain beading down the window in addition to a glare from the light, I still had to capture the building, but how. I drew the drapes and sandwiched myself between the faux sliding glass door, all while my husband lovingly made fun of me trying to get the shot. He said the real picture was me in that sandwich of glass and curtain, lol. It is in moments like that, I am truly blessed and thankful.

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I don’t know if you’ll ever get to Missouri, but I hope you will be shown what you need to see, and you realize that it is right in front of you. Don’t let the struggles of yesterday or today, obscure your view, look beyond. Hell, just look, that is a fine enough start as your cards will reveal themselves in due time.  Thank you Missouri for all that you have shown me!

~Erin

 

 

Reflecting with Love

What do you see when you look at your reflection? Do you see all the things others think of you? Do you see things you THINK others think of you? Do you see the things YOU think about yourself? Are you objective as to what you physically see, as well as what is under the surface? Are you in tune with both the good and bad things about yourself? Do you know how to define “good and bad” about you, and is that even a healthy way to look at it?

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When we see ourselves through others’ eyes, we are getting a very skewed and jaded, if not wholly inaccurate picture. This can cause us to judge ourselves harshly, unfairly, and most assuredly without love. Sure, at times, others’ views of us can help us grow because we aren’t seeing ourselves truthfully(YOU are Beautiful!), but I am not talking about that kind of perspective, through another’s eyes, I am talking about finding your worth, your magic, your beauty in yourself through loving yourself, the whole package.

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When we look in the mirror, are we seeing the amazing things that make us, US? No one has eyes the same color as you. No one has hair or a head like yours. No one has a nose, mouth, cheek, chin, forehead, eyebrows just like you. And your body? That is only yours too! Does your body reflect the activity that you do? The hard work and effort you put in? Maybe your body reflects those donuts you ate? Or maybe your body looks like a donut? Whatever the case, do you love you just as you are or are you hiding parts of yourself from you?

That question can be asked of us both physically and about our psyche, our personality makeup. Perhaps you think you are too much of a pushover? Is this a problem for you? Do you berate yourself for allowing others to walk on you, because you are too nice? Or is it really that you care too much of what others think, and therefore accept being someone’s doormat for the reasons you deem acceptable from yourself? Why are you doing that to the person you love…YOU? What awesomeness are you hiding from yourself by not being bold and brazen and saying no? What made you think that you had to accept any sort of ugliness from this world, let alone yourself? What are you hiding from really and how can you view that differently when you look at yourself with a little bit of love and compassion?

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By hiding, we are missing something truly magical and amazing, ourselves! We are missing parts of us that are strong, graceful, unique and lovely, and if we keep hiding those things, how are we ever going to know that we have wings to soar and glide with? How will we know that we are seriously freaking majestic creatures, that we have a lot to offer this world, and most importantly ourselves??? Well, maybe we should take another look at our reflection and see our complete selves, the whole package, ALL of US? Maybe, just maybe, we should look with love only for ourselves and cut that nonsensical chatter that doesn’t belong.

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We can’t deny our unique majesty, yes we need to see the things we know we could work on, embrace those things with an unbridled self-love, an acceptance in our heart, but we can work on those light AND dark parts for growth, happiness and self acceptance. We can choose to let those aforementioned questions and thoughts go, wholly embrace the beauty, magic and amazing creature that we are, see ourselves as we truly are, as we were meant to be, us, free.

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Once we start viewing ourselves with love and compassion, and no longer see our good and bad parts but just us, that is when we no longer hide, we no longer make apologies or let others’ thoughts affect us.  That is when we see our own reflection!

Find Beauty Where You Least Expect It

I have been looking all around and haven’t seen a thing that has given me cause to write about it. Truthfully, this has been a reflection of me, and not the world around me. So, I stepped back and started taking better care of myself. One of my favorite things to do in this instance is to a walk in Yoctangee Park, and so I did one day with my youngest daughter, camera in tow.

This guy right here, along with his ladies, stayed pretty close to us, and kept crossing our path. He had a lot to say when he was near us, some quackery sure, but it resonated with me on a deeper level. He was challenging what I thought of as beauty. He knew that he, along with his ladies, although grotesque by some standards, were nothing of the sort. They are magnificent, extraordinary birds whose beauty cannot be judged from afar, nor overlooked because there is so much more to them than meets the eye.

This handsome duck taught me a valuable lesson that day. When I forget or get so caught up that I fail to notice the beauty around me, all I need to do is take a walk through my neighborhood park, and remember that all things were created with beauty in mind, I just have to see it. Are you seeing the beauty around you?dino duck 1 web

The Ever Changing Bicycle

There is a certain magic in unexpected things. You are driving along, normal “block everything around you out” sort of drive, and you see the most amazing thing ever. It brings a huge smile to your face, you start to ponder all sorts of questions about the hows, whens, whys and whos. And then you move on with life and the magic kind of fades. Fate has a funny way of keeping the magic alive, even if it takes multiple times!

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I met this kind lady named Linda Cushman in the school parking lot one day. We both had our windows down, waiting on our daughters to be dismissed from the middle school. Linda looked over at me and struck up a conversation, it was pleasant, funny, warm and educational, it stuck with me for several months leaving a good mark. After my Bell’s Palsy episode, I decided to embark on a new journey with yoga, (you’ll get to hear all about that someday), and who should be attending the class too? LINDA! We struck up a conversation about the usual stuff: work, family, homes, and when Linda was describing where she lived, I asked if she lived near that bike that always changes. She smiled a luminous smile and in her quiet way said, “That is my bike, that is where I live”. It really was like meeting a creative, celebrity genius all rolled in to one.

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I asked Linda if I could shoot her bike, because, well, because it is AMAZING. What that actually means is that Linda and her husband Derek Cushman(along with their daughter, Ella) are AMAZING. What started off as a one time thing for Christmas in 2017, morphed in to an inaugural year of ever-changing bicycle! People were so excited and impressed with the 2017 Christmas bike, that Linda and her family decided to keep going, rolling along with the seasons and holidays.

bike 6 web wmRemember when I told you that there were so many things I pondered about this magical bike? I asked Linda the back story, what inspired her, what she hoped to accomplish with the bike, if she has any big plans in the future with the bike, if she would leave it if she sold her house, would she take it with her, does she dream and design far in advance or how does the design come to her, what was her favorite bike, how often does she change it…HOW DOES IT ALL WORK BASICALLY?!? Thankfully Linda indulged all that I had pondered and then some, these are her responses:

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-There is only 1 bike

-My inspiration was a flower shop in Burbank, California. The lady that owned the shop had a bike in her display window that she would change up with the seasons.

-I found the bike at a garage sale, I don’t usually go to garage sales, but the bike caught my eye as I drove by, and for some reason, I stopped and bought it.(FOR $10!!)

-We like to bring a smile to people’s faces, and to give young and old something fun to look forward to!

-The bike changes every 4-6 weeks, and has been different every time. We don’t spend a lot of time planning the bike, it just kind of happens! The bike receives fresh paint and different decor items each change.

-The bike has become our thing as a family, so more than likely the bike will go wherever we go(if they move-my pondering). The bike has taken on a life of its own! People slow down to take pictures of the bike as they are driving by, stop in the driveway to get out to take the bike’s photo, and also pose with the bike, either themselves or their kids.

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When asked what theme was her favorite, Linda said:

-I would have to say the 4th of July 2018 was my favorite. It was so much to do, I just imagined it being in a parade. So many people were upset when we took it down, as it was only up 2 weeks, I wish I had taken a picture of it.

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No worries Linda, I’ve got you covered! I missed Linda’s Fall bike(someone fire my scheduling department), but you can rest assured that I will be capturing and featuring all the rest right here on TPL as they cycle through. If you would like to see Linda, and her family’s magical bicycle,(and you live in Chillicothe, Ohio), just drive to the corner of Allen and Worthington, you will be in for a treat!! Thank you Cushman Family for your time, and warm hospitality!

 

There is magic in us all, make sure you see it in others!

 

 

Blooming with Bell’s Palsy

We tend to only know about things when they affect us, or someone close to us.  I can honestly, but sadly say before I had Bell’s Palsy, I had misconceptions of exactly what it was. I have always considered myself knowledgeable in all things dealing with the body, and for some reason, Bell’s Palsy is one in which I had misunderstood-A LOT. So, what exactly is Bell’s Palsy, how does one get it, is it permanent, how does it change you?

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What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy(also known as Facial Palsy) occurs when the 7th cranial nerve is inflamed, swollen, or compressed and is typically characterized by drooping or paralysis of the face on the affected side. Symptoms of BP go beyond just drooping and paralysis though, it is often accompanied by lack of taste or a weird tinny taste on the tongue, over production or under production of tears on the affected side, severe neck pain/head pain, extreme fatigue, light sensitivity, numbness in body and extremity of affected side, blurred vision in affected side, super sensitivity to sound, drooling, facial tics and so much more.

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How do you get Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is not contagious, but it comes about with several key factors. Most people with a Bell’s diagnosis will tell you that it feels like a perfect storm of issues, with the  most defining factor being 7th nerve involvement, since this is the one that affects the face the most, and is typically how most people get diagnosed. There is good evidence to support that a previous or current virus also has involvement, this can be as simple as a cold sore to something more complex like that case of Chicken Pox you had as a child, your immunity cannot currently handle the inactive virus, and it is then onset in your system. There are a vast number of people who will say they either had an ear infection or tooth/mouth infection on the affected side before the onset of  BP as well, and high blood pressure is also associated. Now, the biggest and most frequent common denominator of BP diagnosis seems to be stress. And not run of the mill stress, but consistent, extreme stress. This is what most believe suppresses the immunity, elevates that blood pressure and causes the dormant virus to pop back up in your system. There are other factors that happen in reoccurring cases(environment being one), but that seems to vary widely, and is worth joining a support group to talk to those that have reoccurring cases for their input.

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Is Bell’s Palsy Permanent?

Typically Bell’s Palsy is not permanent. The symptom’s for most disappear in 2-3 weeks with full recovery within 6 months. There are those, however, that this is becomes a permanent thing. And yes, it can affect both sides of your face simultaneously(sykinesis), or affect one side initially and then affect the other side at some point in time. Bell’s Palsy is not a highly researched medical condition, but doctor’s have a better understanding and a better protocol for treatment now than previously.

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How do you treat Bell’s Palsy?

With the majority of Bell’s patients, they will be given a round of prescriptive steroids and anti-viral meds. This typically does the trick, but most people will incorporate physical modalities to assist the medicine in the healing process. Acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy, cranio sacral therapy, and chiropractics are just a few ways patients will seek to deal with their symptoms in hopes of speeding along and dealing with their condition. Rest is the most crucial Rx, as your body will need it to recuperate, regroup and rebound to a better state, to make it more able to deal with all of what is going on. Hot compresses will be beneficial, as well as a good pain reliever, the level of pain reliever depends on the person, OTC works for most people. OH, and hopefully you will be able to find a way to eliminate that stress, since that is typically what will make the pain worse.

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How does Bell’s Palsy change you?

This question will be best answered case by case.

Personally, my mind was not giving up, but my body did, and by doing so, it helped to alleviate the horrible level of stress that I was living with. I did not realize I was AS stressed out as I was. I am not talking normal everyday stress, I am talking crazy bad stress that I had been dealing with for years, which made my ability to deal with every day stress basically non-existent. I was stressed to the point that I felt hopeless, despite my positive, can do attitude. I think the thing that aggravates me most is the advice I get from well-meaning people…everyone has an answer for you, and if I am being completely honest, I passed those suggestive coping mechanisms a long time ago. I had done those things years ago and they worked at the time for a short time, but when you reach the point I was at, there is only one thing that was going to work for me, and it did-Bell’s Palsy.  While BP is not something I wish on anyone, I believe it saved me from the stressful existence I was living. It made those around me realize what they were putting me through, it made me actually start to take better care of myself and to give myself more consideration, instead of thinking my life was to just serve others, I needed to serve me too. The fight I had been fighting for myself was finally over, and there is so much more to that statement than most people will ever know.

Physically, the lack of stress is helping with other issues I have had for years, but the Bell’s Palsy symptoms are still here intermittently. How long they will be silently in tow, I don’t know, but I will continue to endeavor to keep my stress at bay to help keep the symptoms at a minimum. Mentally, I have learned that we all need to be a little selfish in our own lives. We cannot possibly serve others’ needs mercilessly and deplete ourselves without requiring a fill up too. Having Bell’s has brought me closer to the ones I love, and helped me to see the relationships that I no longer need to maintain. It has changed me, my perspective, and is helping me find a new sense of self. This is one more cycle in the game of life, and I am greeting it happily, embracing it fully.

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