Archive for January, 2018

Choosing my filter

As most of you know, my husbee and I are just back from time away together, where of course, we took many photos. As I was going through these photos over the past few days, Google photos suddenly sent me a note, asking me if I’d like to see my stylized photos. Intrigued, I opened my Google folder and discovered that Google had applied various filters to my photos, making them brighter, crisper, black & white, sepia-toned, animated, or otherwise. Very interesting! And while the photos looked…different from the originals, I wasn’t convinced that all of them looked better.

In my mind, the question arose… why did I need filters on my photos? Was it because the initial moment wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so having the control to adjust it in my permanent memory would mean I could re-create my memories just how I wanted them? What does this automatic adjustment mean, then, to the reality of my memories? Were they still my moments, my memories? Or would they become something that never really happened?

Taking this thought one step further, I started to wonder… where else do we do this? Where else do we apply filters, to change our memories or make our lives brighter, sharper, or easier on our eyes?

A photo is a snapshot of time. It captures a single, fleeting moment of something or someone, that you want to remember. When I think about it, this is just like life. Life is a string of moments in time. All of these moments are unique, different, and fleeting. And every single moment will only happen once. Some of these moments are mundane, some are happy, some are devastating, some are memorable, and some are better forgotten. But they all come together to shape what we call our lives. If we start adjusting these moments, applying filters to make them more palatable to ourselves or the world around us, are they still real? Or do they become a fabricated set of events that are no longer real; that no longer belong to us?

Changing our lives to make them appear brighter, sharper, and more vivid can seem like a great thing at the time, but I believe that it actually dulls our true nature, our true existence, and our true sense of self. It removes reality from our lives; turning each moment into a fabricated instance fit for public consumption.

Every single moment of our lives does not need to be flashy, animated, or vibrant. In fact, there are many days where I am glad that my life goes by, moment by moment, just as it should… no pomp or circumstance, no extraordinary happenings; just moments of me and those around me, just as they should be, strung together to create my happy, albeit boring, existence. I don’t want to apply filters to these moments; I want them to happen just as they do, just as they should – and I want to know them, and remember them, exactly as they were.

So the next time Google tries to auto-magically filter my photos, I think I will take a moment to enjoy the vivid images, but I will be sure to keep a copy of all of my originals. I like my photos, and my life, just the way they are.

There is no need to apply a filter.


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I spent last week on a beautiful cruise with my husband. We visited the islands of Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico, on the biggest cruise ship of the world (the Harmony of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean). It was amazing, breathtaking, beautiful, and a blessed experience that I am truly grateful for.

All of these beautiful locations had one thing in common. Ok, they all had more than one thing in common; they all had breathtaking sights, beautiful & friendly people, and crystal blue water. But what they also had was an abundance of people on their cell phones.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, people can now take selfies anywhere. I. Mean. ANYWHERE. We spent seven days on a gazillion-ton boat (which we nicknamed Boaty McBoatface, of course), and we visited three breathtakingly beautiful islands. And there, in the middle of what should have been a once in a lifetime experience for most of the 6,000 + passengers aboard the boat, I found a sad (and surprisingly large) number of people more interested in searching Instagram and Facebook, and taking staged-to-look-spontaneous selfies to post for their followers on social media, than they were in just taking in the miracle around them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for taking photos to remember where I have been and who I was with. I have a sketchy memory at best, and photos are the best way for me to make sure I have a record of the adventures of my life. But I don’t mean a selfie-photo-record with my hair just right, my clothes just so, and my makeup (what makeup?!) ready for prime-time. I mean photos of me and my husband neck deep in ocean water laughing so hard one eye is closed, or the hermit crab named Hermie that we spent some time with, or the waves crashing into the side of a spectacularly green island. A real photo record of what took place.

Has our society swung too far? In a world where likes mean more than interactions, and a perfect selfie is how we judge each other, what does it mean when a five year-old on a beach in Jamaica has a selfie stick and is more interested in that, than in building sandcastles with his parents (both of whom also look like they just got off a runway in Milan, and spend 45 minutes posing continually for their own selfies, with their own selfie sticks).

Let’s back up one step further. What does it mean when we now have a stick, yes, a STICK, named after an epidemic of needing-to-look-perfect-at-all-times people, whose goal in life seems to be to take and post a perfectly posed, perfectly rehearsed, not-at-all-spontaneous-but completely-staged-to-look-candid photo of oneself, just to see how many people will react to it? And if the reaction isn’t what we hoped for, we take it down and put up another one? What is going ON?

I believe this is a very sad statement. In a world so preoccupied with looking perfect for the next shot of self… we’re not only judging and shaming those around us who don’t look the way the media expects, but we are also completely missing the life that is going on around us. Reminder: we only get one shot at that life, whizzing by; seconds ticking as our cameras are clicking.  

As a passenger on the world’s biggest cruise ship, in the world’s bluest ocean, going to places and having experiences that only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will ever be lucky enough to experience, what I should be doing is stepping back, and breathing in the beauty.

But FIRST, let me take a selfie. 

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Going off the grid

My husband and I just returned from a blissful eight days off the grid. When I say off the grid, I don’t mean we only picked up our phones only once an hour instead of every five minutes. I mean OFF. THE. GRID. No phones, no tablets, no computers, no watches, no tv’s… For eight days. It was amazing.

This is only the second time I have done this in my long-standing tenure of owning a cell-phone; the first time was five years ago, almost to the day. It was just as peaceful and calming this time as it was then, and I took some more tie to reflect on it this time around.

Here are my top three observations…

  1. It is harder than you think!
    I am not addicted to my phone;  I don’t need to check my phone, my Facebook, my Twitter, my Instagram, or anything else. However, I do like to know that I can be in touch with people, if I need to. So that was the hardest part for me; knowing that I was, in fact, completely disconnected; out of reach of the press of a button to talk to whomever I pleased.
  2. It is very good for you!
    Having a cell phone means being connected. ALL. THE. TIME. I find there is nothing more draining, whether consciously or subconsciously, than knowing that you are always on-call. Knowing that, at any moment, your phone could bing, ping, or ring, and someone or something on the other end will request your attention and drag you away from the present moment.

    For me, I found being disconnected truly refreshing and energizing. For someone who is learning what mindfulness means, and how to be present in the moment, this was a very valuable reminder that I need separation from the threat of constant distraction to truly re-energize my batteries, every once in awhile.

  3. Re-connecting from a better perspective.
    Now that I am back online, and able to check all the instant-things that come with having my phone in the palm of my hand, I find that I am able to keep all the dinging, ringing, and pinging in better perspective when it comes to urgency and the draw on my self and my time.

    While I was off the grid, nothing and no one fell down. Everything was fine. The earth kept spinning, the sun rose and set, work moved along, news happened, time passed. None of these things needed my constant attention to happen. It was a great reminder that I am quite infinitesimal in the grand scheme of this crazy world, and that if I do not jump at the sound of my device, it is O-K.

Personally, I am going to try and keep up this practice at the very least once a week. It is good for us humans, to get off the grid.



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I love irony. I enjoy ironic situations just as much as the next person. And I find it hilarious when people behave ironically without even realizing it. I think that’s my favorite.

Wikipedia says ‘Ironic statements (verbal irony) often convey a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meaning‘. It also mentions that irony relates to someone who feigns ignorance, which in itself is ironic, because those who behave ironically are often very ignorant, whether intentionally or simply by nature.

Alanis Morissette says that irony is ‘a black fly in your Chardonnay’, or ‘a free ride when you’ve already paid’. So good.

In the last half of 2017, I noticed an increase in the irony around me, all layered with the pretense of honesty, integrity, and authenticity. Which, again, is ironic, because you might as well put some oil in a container of water and claim that it makes a perfect mix.

So what is it about the veil of irony that people feel they can use it to behave selfishly, poorly, and with hatred, ignorance, or judgement towards others?

Is it the blanket of security people use to shroud themselves in public with words like ‘trustworthy’, ‘authentic’, and ‘real as F&*$’, while in private they hang those blankets over their mirrors at night so they don’t have to look at themselves, and they can go to bed with a clean conscience?

Is it the peace in knowing that they told a good story, sold a great lie, or lived another falsehood in the name of being real to promote themselves ahead of the rest of the pack?

Is it the complexity of irony itself, that people believe they can play the role of a loyal and peaceful sheep, while wearing wolf’s clothing when things are more interesting on the other side of a fence?

I’m not sure. I don’t relate, so I can’t say I know the answer. But I do know one thing. A good acquaintance of mine said something to me the other day that really struck a chord…

  • If you are authentic, you don’t need to advertise. Just be.
  • If you are honest, you don’t need to promise. Just be.
  • If you are trustworthy, you don’t need to prove it. Just be.
  • And if you are real, you don’t need to explain. Just be.

Sometimes, the more people speak, the less they say rings true, and the less I want to hear. Sometimes a person’s silence speaks volumes.  And isn’t that… ironic.

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Have I mentioned what my New Year’s resolution is, besides to do more writing? It’s to be authentically true to myself. Before I get into what that means, which I will do in a separate post, let me just say that it means for me to really do ME. To follow my path, to listen to my story in the universe, and to just. Do. Me.

Well, as it turns out, that makes me a budding Jedi warrior! I saw The Last Jedi movie tonight, the 3rd instalment of the new (old) Star Wars series, and in it, Luke spends a considerable amount of time explaining to Rey what ‘the force’ is. To avoid spoilers, I’ll be a bit vague, here, but basically when she says it’s ‘to make things float’ (ha ha) he explains just how wrong she is. In short, it is a balance; between dark and light, peace and destruction, warmth and cold, wet and dry, etc. etc. It is yin and yang, and it is that balance within a person that gives them ‘the force’.

Woah. Wait just a minute! This sounds an awful lot to me like what I have been working on, and continue to work on, when it comes to my sense of self, of yogi, of balance, of being, and of mindfulness. It reminds me of my work surrounding the idea of ‘wei wu wei’ or ‘doing without doing’ as I am learning in my yoga practice. Effortless action; or the concept that with effort comes balance, and with balance comes the need for less effort.

Aha! So while I may not be able to make my coffee cups lift themselves and load into the dishwasher, or will my dustbunnies to levitate right into the garbage can, perhaps I can learn to find a balance within myself where I am less focused on the negative and more on the positive; less focused on the stress and more on the joy of everyday life; less focused on the passing of time and more focused on the gift of it.

I am working to become a Jedi warrior and find my own ‘force’. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

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Miriam-Webster defines a ‘hiatus’ as an interruption in time or continuity. Well, I think it’s fair to say that is exactly what has been going on here. I mean, I knew it had been a long time since I had written… but almost two years?! Goodness.

To those who wondered where I went… I’m not sure. Life just… happened. I’m hoping that being back will help me figure that out.

To those who waited for me to come back… thanks! I’m hoping to put down a few words to repay you for your loyalty.

I’m not sure how long I am going to be back for, or what it’s going to look like. All I know, at this point, is that I have missed writing, which to me is a great feeling. I am so happy, and excited, to be back at it. I’m hoping to write about something, nothing, anything, and everything. That’s the beauty of this being my blog.

Here we go; and welcome to 2018!


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