Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Tag: Inspiration

Fifty by Fifty

Fifty by Fifty

Hello, dear ones! It’s been a while.

The last time I published a blog post was after I finished clearing out my parents’ house nearly two months ago, in preparation for closing on the house. After that, I took a little breather and then embarked on a mission to clear my house of clutter, for life had become chaotic in recent years, and even more so with my dad’s health crises last summer, his death from Legionnaires’ Disease in October, having to attend to estate matters, and the quick sale of his house (my childhood home). Caring for my own house had gone by the wayside, and when I finally landed back home after the house transaction was completed in January and opened my eyes, so to speak, I felt like Rip Van Winkle waking from a long, enchanted sleep.

My life had changed dramatically in the 8 1/2 years since we moved into this small 1840s house on the Hudson when my youngest child was entering fifth grade, and particularly in the last few years. Now my son is in college, and my daughter has a daughter of her own, which of course makes me a grandmother.

My grandmother and parents passed away, a close relative came out as transgender, family dynamics shifted considerably, I resigned from my teaching career, and I was approaching my 50th birthday and menopause. So much water had flowed under the bridge in front of my house (literally and figuratively), and the point is that my house had become quite cluttered and overgrown with possessions from previous chapters that were no longer relevant. This had a strong, adverse effect on the energy inside the house, which felt confused and in disarray.

When I stopped and really took a good look around, I realized things needed to change. It was time to regain control of my life and home so they would better reflect the current vision I hold for my life, and I declared February to be a month of deep, divine decluttering. I envisioned a clutter-cleared home as a birthday gift to myself that would feel amazing. I’m about halfway done at this point and intend to write more about the remarkable process soon. But anyway, that’s how I’ve been spending my spare time over the past month and a half and is why you haven’t heard from me!

Yesterday I turned 50, and it was the best birthday ever! I had given a lot of consideration to how I wanted to celebrate this milestone birthday and planned activities that spanned a week and a half, including:

  • An astrological reading with someone I’d been wanting to have a reading with for years
  • Creating a “spirit lantern” the evening before my birthday, which coincided with the new moon and Losar, the Tibetan New Year (I sell this kind of custom-made lantern in my Etsy shop)

  • My first adult birthday party in nearly 30 years.

In addition, I had a dream about an old friend and housemate from my 20s that prompted me to get in touch with him after more than 25 years. I stopped by the old homestead on my way home from the retreat center, and the visit resulted in a hefty dose of post-retreat, birthday week magic that left me inspired and uplifted in so many ways. Experiencing the wildly creative and aesthetically and energetically incredible heaven on earth he had created both indoors and outdoors over the past 30 years was powerful beyond words. That visit was a sweet surprise that helped me to recover some parts of myself that I had forgotten about. It left me determined to infuse my life with more joy and play.

In another stroke of birthday magic, yesterday I received from Artful Ashes a beautiful, glass heart memorial that was made with some of my parents’ ashes (the white swirls). It arrived on my birthday, of all days!

One of my retreat goals was to compose a letter to my one-year-old granddaughter, for her to open and read later in life. In the process of doing that, I ended up creating a list of 50 things I’ve learned as a result of my 50 years on the planet – wisdom I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren. I finished the list on my birthday and offer it with love and sincerity as  my birthday gift to you. I’m sure your list would be very different, based on your own personality, experiences, and “issues”, but here’s what I came up with, based on mine…

  1. Your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself (your Self). It is the basis for all other relationships. The health of all other relationships depends on the quality of your relationship with yourself and the extent to which you accept all parts of yourself. Your relationships with others are ultimately reflections of your relationship with yourself, and the way you relate to others is a reflection of how you relate to yourself. If you tend to see the worst in people, inflate their flaws, and find them deficient, perhaps you need to work on your own, inner critic and loving yourself. Until you have a healthy, loving relationship with yourself, it will not be possible to have a healthy, loving relationship with anyone else.
  2. Stop compromising on what you really want and then blaming it on not wanting to disappoint, hurt, or inconvenience someone else – because those who truly care about you would want you to be happy, and it’s not fair to put that kind of burden on anyone or to give away your power to make decisions about your life. You don’t need to ask anyone for permission to do what you know is right for yourself. Claim responsibility for your life, and do it!
  3. When you experience rejection, don’t turn it into a story about your self worth and convince yourself that you’re not good enough and should give up what you are trying to accomplish. Resilience is every bit as important as talent, skill, and capability. Trust that you will find the right opportunity at the right time and that any door that did not open for you simply wasn’t right for you. You have no idea what the powers-that-be were looking for. It might be something very specific, such as a particular style or chemistry. Don’t ever let what you perceive as “failure” define you. More likely, it is about whether or not someone or something is truly a fit for you. It is a blessing not to be bound to a person or situation with whom your energy, values, etc. are incompatible. Believe that something even better is in store for you!
  4. If you really want something, don’t give up! You hold a key to a door that will only open for you. All you need to do is find it. Even if everything seemed to go wrong today, tomorrow might be the day when the universe aligns, and you will find yourself drawn to the right place at the right time, interacting with the right people.
  5. No person, situation, achievement, or anything outside of yourself will provide abiding fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind. This includes finding your soulmate, having a nice house, well paying job, or successful career, being able to go on exotic vacations, etc. Such states of minds can only be generated from within. Any satisfaction that is dependent on external factors is only fleeting.
  6. Relationships and love endure beyond physical death. There are so many ways our loved ones reach out to us! We just need to pay attention.
  7. People really don’t care so much about what you do or don’t do. They’re busy with their own lives! You are only the magnified center of your own universe, not anyone else’s, and this is good news because it takes off a lot of pressure! Worrying about what others think about you is perhaps the greatest impediment to living the life you were made for and fulfilling your unique potential.
  8. It is empowering to take responsibility for your role in situations and relationships! Thinking of yourself as a victim, blaming another person for wronging you, and holding him responsible for your happiness and peace of mind is disempowering. Accepting your responsibility and claiming your power sets you free and feels great. So does forgiveness! Holding a grudge is like ingesting poison. and forgiveness is the antidote. 
  9. The people who seem most confident and sure of themselves are often the least so. Don’t be fooled by appearances.
  10. You don’t need to save the world. Start with saving yourself by doing your inner work and evolving, and then the benefits from that will ripple into your world. Begin within.
  11. Our parents and grandparents are human and therefore imperfect. They are learning just like we are, and chances are they never intended to hurt us. We need to forgive them for the mistakes they made, just as we will want our own children to forgive us for the mistakes we inevitably make. We are not here to be perfect, and we cannot hold anyone’s imperfection against them.
  12. It is impossible to please everybody, no matter how talented, successful, or enlightened you are. Don’t even try.
  13. When people criticize you, take what is useful, and let go of the rest. So much of what others say – including their opinions of you – is more about them than about you.
  14. Do what you love. And if you love it, don’t give it up for anyone, for that is far too great a sacrifice. Don’t give up on your own talents and passions in order to be more appealing to someone who doesn’t value them. Be faithful to what lights you up and ignites your creative passion. Instead of trying to make yourself more attractive to a certain person, put your energy into pursuing your dreams. Then you will be more attractive to people who are more compatible with your vision of who you want to be, and that is who you really want to attract, even if you don’t realize it. Doing what you love is one of the most attractive qualities of all.
  15. Don’t listen to the voices that insist you won’t succeed at a certain endeavor. If it really calls to you, you owe it to yourself to pursue it or risk spending the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t and wondering what might have happened if you hadn’t listened to the naysayers.
  16. Trust and follow your intuition. It is your internal, navigation system that keeps you aligned with your True Self and saves you a lot of pain and suffering.
  17. Strive for authenticity, not perfection. The greatest perfection you can achieve is to be more fully yourself.
  18. When you feel inclined to walk away from someone or something, be really honest with yourself about whether you are truly done and complete with it or whether you are deferring to fear, avoidance, or the hopeful delusion that the grass is greener elsewhere.
  19. Make decisions based on love, not fear. Never allow fear to be in the driver’s seat!
  20. Cultivating gratitude can transform your life. It is a powerful practice.
  21. You can’t change another person. You can inspire someone to change or support him in his effort to change. But if somebody does not want to change, there is nothing you can do to change him. And you need to be okay with that and let go of your need to “save” him (and consider what motivation is behind that need). Focusing on helping others can be an excuse for not doing your own inner work. Believing someone needs to change is arrogant and belittles him. When you can see through your illusions about who you want someone to be, to the reality of who he is, you can choose between accepting him as is or releasing him with love because who he is doesn’t fit with the vision you have for your life. Both options are much healthier than being in a relationship with someone’s potential rather than the actual person.
  22. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing better or accomplishing more. Instead, consider your desire to improve yourself as movement in a positive direction.
  23. Every now and then, it is useful to consider what has outlived its usefulness in your life and to let go of those things (including relationships), to make room for something new and wonderful to come in.
  24. You are enough as you are, right now. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) convince you otherwise. You are worthy of love simply because you exist. 
  25. I used to think there was one, true vocational path I was created for, and I needed to find it or my life would be a waste. But there are so many different ways to shine your light in this world. So many possibilities! You can do it in whatever job or situation you find yourself in. And if you find yourself unable to bring your light to your job, then you need to seriously consider releasing yourself from it or changing the way you relate to it – because you were made to shine!
  26. It is never too late to engage with a creative passion or learn something new. You don’t have to disrupt your whole life and accumulate a lot of debt by going back to school. You need not make it your career. You can find a way to do it on some scale, whether through volunteering or learning on your own, just like my mom took up guitar in her 70s and was able to reconcile her lifelong love of music with her unfulfilled dream of being a nurse, by playing guitar for hospital patients as a volunteer.
  27. When you are considering what vocation to pursue, be honest with yourself about what is most important to you. For example, if living comfortably and having the finer things in life is most important to you, you might want to think twice about pursuing a career in a low-paying or risky field (like social work or the arts). If creativity is most important to you, then you must find the courage to live a creative life rather than stick with what feels “safe”. Have the courage to specialize if there’s something you’re really passionate about, rather than take the generalist, “safe” route that covers all bases. There is always a way to do what you feel called to do, even if you don’t make a career of it. And sometimes not making a career of it or demanding that it pay your bills allows you to enjoy it more.
  28. There is guidance all around us. All we need to do is ask for it and be open and receptive to it. Synchronicity is one of my favorite forms of guidance! 
  29. If you’re feeling down or off, focus on the basics. Are you getting enough rest? Movement? Good nutrition? If not, start there.
  30. You weren’t supposed to know back then what you know now. It doesn’t work that way. So give yourself a break, and be grateful you know it now, without second-guessing what your life might have been like if you had learned it earlier.
  31. Nobody’s life is perfect, no matter how it appears on the surface. Everybody has issues. Other people’s issues might be very different from yours, but they certainly have them! So don’t spend any time hiding behind a wall of shame erected by your perceived faults. So many people have parts of themselves or their lives that feel too shameful to admit to anyone. Things they never imagined they’d experience and that even cause them to question their goodness and worth. But telling the truth to a trusted person often reveals that you are not alone (you never are) in what you are feeling and experiencing. Sharing like that can release you from the shackles of shame. I have experienced so many things I never imagined I would – things I would have judged others for had I not “been there, done that” myself. As a result of all my experiences, I have developed greater compassion for others and am someone people can be open and honest with, without being judged. Everything we experience offers us a gift or opportunity, if we hold it right.
  32. Don’t pass judgment on what you don’t understand. If you truly understand someone, you can’t help but find something to love about her. Everyone has reasons for his/her behavior. But that doesn’t mean you need to take on someone’s problems.
  33. Our obstacles, challenges, handicaps, etc. are in our lives for a reason and have gifts to offer us. They serve a purpose and are perhaps our greatest teachers. This includes difficult people.
  34. The things that are most important are not things.
  35. You can be grateful for the blessings in your own yard and also seek to experience new horizons. Find something to appreciate and enjoy wherever you are. Don’t make your happiness dependent on being somewhere else. You won’t be happy there, either, unless you carry happiness inside you.
  36. Do not guilt yourself into living in poverty because other people in the world have so little. With greater abundance, you can do more good in the world. You don’t have to choose between being “spiritual” and being prosperous. You can be both. It is more about the attachment you have to money and material things and whether you attach your self-worth and happiness to your possessions or bank account balance.
  37. Jealousy is perhaps the most misguided and unproductive emotion of all. 
  38. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have your own, unique talents and style. Other people can inspire you, but believe in yourself, and shine your light without worrying how you measure up to anyone else. The world needs you to shine your light. Don’t keep it inside!
  39. Since we and our loved ones are not guaranteed tomorrow, don’t leave any kind or loving words left unsaid. Don’t hold them in or put them off. Let your heart speak when it has something to say, for tomorrow might be too late.
  40. Don’t take yourself or life too seriously! Never underestimate the value of a good sense of humor and the willingness to look like a fool every now and then.
  41. The company you keep matters. Surround yourself with healthy people who believe in you and encourage you to be the best you can be. Stay away from critical, cold-hearted people and those who stomp out your light.
  42. You are so much stronger than you think.
  43. It’s often easier to forgive and have compassion for others than it is to forgive and have compassion for yourself. This is where we your work lies, and it is important and worthwhile work. “Love your neighbor as yourself” works both ways! Don’t deny yourself the gift of forgiveness and compassion.
  44. A pretty/handsome face is but a crumb compared to the banquet of a kind and loving heart.
  45. Sometimes the Universe provides you with an alignment of factors that creates the perfect storm for you to challenge yourself and grow.
  46. There is a big difference between your inherent worth and your sense of self-worth. What you accomplish and how you are treated by others are reflections of your sense of self worth. They do not reflect your true worth. Love yourself enough to teach people how you deserve to be treated.
  47. If you find yourself in a situation or relationship that feels wrong, there is always a way out. If you can’t come up with any options, ask for guidance. Even pray for guidance! Pay attention to what appears, and have enough faith to take the escape chute the universe sends your way. It is a great relief to free yourself from something that feels wrong.
  48. You are a more powerful co-creator of your life than you can imagine, and your imagination is the key to it! “Mind over matter” is for real. Have fun experimenting with manifesting what is in alignment with your true Self. Be very clear about what you want, and imagine how it will feel to have your wishes fulfilled, as if it is a present reality. You could begin with manifesting small things like parking spaces and work your way to bigger things. Creating a vision board can help!
  49. Your true Self cannot be defiled by anything of this world. It is indestructible.
  50. This, too, shall pass.

And with that, this very tired birthday girl is heading to bed, hoping to write very soon about the magical journey of clutter-clearing!


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Getting Unstuck: The Magical Morning Power Hour

Getting Unstuck: The Magical Morning Power Hour

This year, I’m using a unique and engaging day planner. It’s colorful and spirited, and what I love most about it is that there’s room at the beginning of each month to set intentions and goals and to list the kinds of practical resources and support you’ll need to make them happen. At the end of the month, there are pages to reflect on:

  • What dreams and goals came true?
  • What sucked? What do you need to rant about to feel better?
  • What lessons did you learn?
  • Who/what are you grateful for?

I look forward to filling out the reflection pages at the end of each month because I know that, no matter what transpired over the course of the month, it’s an opportunity to: get a better understanding of where my energy went, forgive myself, and start fresh with setting intentions for the upcoming month.

At the beginning of the year, I used a companion workbook to brainstorm goals and create a list of “100 Things to Do in 2016“, which I use to set monthly goals in my planner. As the year progressed, new goals replaced some of the goals that were originally on my list, so I’ve been keeping it fresh and staying fairly focused and on track.

Until – BOOM! – August hit.

wavesrocks-1

August and September left me feeling derailed. Off track. Distracted. Frazzled. My dad needed sudden, major surgery and hospitalization followed by a second surgery, hospitalization, and rehab, which required me to significantly alter my schedule and redirect where I put my energy. In the middle of all that, I got my son off to film school (which made me an official empty nester) and prepared for having my first vendor booth at a festival in September, selling my photography (prints, handmade stone tile coasters, and greeting cards) and handmade star lanterns – which was a heck of a lot of work the first time around! It’s also senior portrait season, so I’ve been focusing on drumming up some portrait work. And I began the process of applying for an artist grant to publish my first book and both started a part-time job and returned to subbing at a private school to stay afloat while building my own business…after feeling I haven’t made much progress in that department over the past two months despite my best intentions.

Please don’t get me wrong: I am not someone who glorifies being busy. It’s just that, for whatever reasons, I’ve had a little extra on my plate lately. The bottom line is that sleep, exercise, meal prep, meditation, and writing – the activities that keep me sane and balanced – fell largely by the wayside, and I got thrown out of whack from trying to fit in so much. I became overtired and felt I had gotten quite off course and wasn’t making satisfactory progress toward my goals.

Then I realized that I am not alone. (Are we ever?) In September, “getting unstuck” (stopping a downward cycle, getting out of a funk, etc.) was a common theme amongst virtually every blogger and spiritual teacher I follow. Some of their advice included:

  • Acknowledge where you are
  • Don’t blame yourself
  • Cultivate gratitude for what you DO have and for being motivated to have/do more
  • Declutter your house, schedule, and mind to make space for what you want to attract
  • Take a step out of your comfort zone, and do something you’ve wanted to do, however small
  • Make a small commitment to refocus every day
  • Cut yourself off from negativity by replacing negative thoughts and stories with more positive, productive ones

With the exception of decluttering (which is a work in progress), I’ve done all of the above, and to gear up for a strong final quarter of 2016, I also gave my workbook and planner a fabulous makeover by covering them with my own art work.

journals-1

In addition, I’ve been experimenting with a practice that works wonders for me: Starting the day with what I call a MAGICAL MORNING POWER HOUR!

Actually, it was my new moon intention last month, but throughout the course of the month, I became sidetracked by events both within and beyond my control, so I’m recommitting to my Magical Morning Power Hour once again during this new lunar cycle because it makes such a positive difference in the quality of my day – so much that I realize the importance of putting a NO TRESPASSING sign around that time, so to speak. It is sacred time not to be intruded upon by anyone or anything else. It’s my way of staying focused, true to myself, and on track.

My Magical Morning Power Hour is something I look forward to each morning, and it inspires me to get to sleep early enough so I won’t end up sleeping through it. It is time for me. And despite what we have been socialized to believe by a culture that glorifies being busy, taking time for yourself is neither selfish nor lazy because when your energy is in a good place, you’re able to be more fully and effectively present to others. As an introvert, I consider it an absolute necessity for healthy functioning. But introvert or not, when you take time to tune in and nourish yourself, you set a positive ripple of energy into motion.

Some people discipline themselves to do a certain practice every day, but you don’t have to. Having a consistent, daily practice is like photographing the sunrise from the same location every morning. You get to know a place intimately and experience it differently than if you keep moving around. You notice the nuances that can only be perceived when you know a place (which could be a physical location or your own, inner space) so well. But there’s also value in letting intuition guide you toward what you need on a particular day. You can check in with your energy, and consider whether you feel drawn to movement or stillness. Or perhaps you could commit to a regular practice (one small thing) and supplement it with what feels right on a given day.

Although I like the sound of Magical Morning Power HOUR, you need not set aside a full hour! Some mornings, looking at my vision board before getting out of bed and drinking warm lemon water from a very special teacup is all I have time for and is enough to reinforce my intention to nourish and honor my deeper self, set a positive and mindful tone for the day, and refocus my energy. Other mornings, I am able to stretch it out to more than an hour. Many mornings, I’m motivated to do more activities than I realistically can fit in, and I have to reign myself back in and remember it’s not necessary to do so much. It’s like being tempted to fill your plate too many times at a buffet of delicious, nutritious food. More is not necessarily better! Better to savor and taste fully what you are eating rather than rush to consume more. Quality over quantity. What I can fit into the allotted time is enough. It’s really about mindfulness and intention and not just jumping into the day on autopilot.

To give you some ideas, here are some of the activities I include during my Magical Morning Power Hour:

  • Body scan meditation while still lying in bed
  • Sip warm lemon water with cayenne
  • Tea meditation
  • Chakra tune-up (I use Jonathan Goldman’s Chakra Tuner app)
  • Mindfulness meditation (Insight Timer app is a great resource)
  • White light visualization
  • Yoga (I love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube)  
  • Walk in nature with mindfulness of beauty and possibly a camera
  • Watch the sun rise
  • Look at my vision board 
  • Read out loud the affirmations I wrote to accompany my vision board
  • Walk a labyrinth
  • Pull an oracle card (I use Universal Cards and Angel Tarot Cards)
  • Breath practice
  • “Filling the holes” practice (given to me by my spiritual guide)
  • Tapping/EFT (Brad Yates on YouTube)
  • Take my kayak on the river
  • Hand and/or foot massage
  • Listen to inspired, meditative music or spiritual content while preparing food
  • Watch an inspiring video
  • Read a poem (I love Mary Oliver) or few pages from an inspirational book
  • Spend a few moments with the current month’s edition of Sister Joan Chittister’s The Monastic Way pamphlet
  • Balance rocks

If you feel you’ve gotten off track or have fallen into a downward spiral, no worries: You CAN push the reset button! It’s never too late! It might be worthwhile to reflect on how you got sidetracked, but don’t indulge in negative self-talk or blame yourself for not doing better. That, my friend, is counterproductive – a waste of time and energy better spent putting your best foot forward in the direction you want to go. The beginning of a new month, season, or lunar cycle is a wonderful time to clear the slate and set fresh intentions. But really, ANY day is a day you can return home to yourself and accept the invitation to follow the pull from your core and live the life that feels like yours to live – beginning with how you set the tone for your day.

For me, life still feels a little too full for comfort, but as I work on decluttering, my Magical Morning Power Hour is not up for reconsideration. It is a keeper! It helps me to have greater clarity about everything else – what is truly important and what I can let go of. And on mornings when I wake up feeling anxious about (well, name a category!), it is where I source my strength, serenity, and sense of security. Like starting the day with a nourishing breakfast, it is how I power my body, mind, and spirit with high quality fuel at the beginning of each day.

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If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe seems to conspire to ensure that certain works are accomplished or (in my case) images are captured. You can call it intuition, inspiration, or various other names. It’s the voice that might literally wake you up so you can be in the right place at the right time and sometimes employs unwitting accomplices.

That happened to me yesterday morning, after staying up late doing research. At 6:00 a.m., my phone rang. It was the director of a private school calling to ask if I could fill in for the day. I had to decline because I had promised to care for my granddaughter for a few hours. After taking the call, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, although I closed my eyes to try. But something about the misty morning light compelled me to get out of bed, despite not feeling as rested as I wanted to be.

It had been a while since I’d photographed a river sunrise, mainly because of my late night work habits. It was a shocking 7° (F) outside and a morning when I’d prefer to stay indoors. But something wonderful was about to happen. I could feel it and (as I’ve said before) have learned to trust that feeling. So I put on my warm clothes, coat, and shoes and went to the chilly river’s edge to photograph the sunrise, which looked rather like a painting.

Sunrise 4-5-16-4

If there is a way to predict the “wow” value of sunrises and sunsets, I have yet to discover it. But the pink-orange mist was intriguing, so I stayed outside to see how it would develop.

Sunrise 4-5-16-2

As the sun began to climb the trees, the way it played with the trees and appeared to stretch their branches with golden light was phenomenal. In my four years of photographing sunrises on the river, I’d never witnessed that particular effect so intensely.

Sunrise 4-5-16 detail

It made me think of Moses and the burning bush – for the trees were “on fire” with brilliant light but not consumed. I hoped I could capture it exactly as it appeared so as to express what drew me to it and stopped me in my tracks – because when a sight grabs you like that, there must be some kind of spiritual nugget in it.

I selected the image below to share online because the way the various elements came together was most pleasing to me. The deciding factor was the relationship between the branches stretched by sunlight in the center of the image and the branches across the river in the lower right corner that seemed to reach out to them. That spoke to me.

Sunrise 4-5-16-1

After I shared the image, people reported being drawn to different elements of it and seeing certain shapes and symbols in the sunlit trees. I’m fascinated by how we gravitate to certain images or elements and discover meaning or satisfaction in them. When we gravitate toward an image, it’s an invitation to go deeper. We can consider what calls us to it. What is our connection to it? What does it stir in us? What longing does it satisfy? What does it reflect that is alive in us?

As I contemplated the above image, the words that arose from it were: Source it higher. Fuel your life from a higher source. Gas station and food metaphors came to mind. Tapping into ordinary consciousness is like filling up with regular gas or fast food that makes you feel jittery. But there are higher quality options, like premium gas or farm-to-table, organic meals containing a rainbow of nutrients that leave you feeling truly nourished and energized. A beautiful soul who adopted the name Peace Pilgrim said, “Junk thoughts can destroy you even more quickly than junk food.” That is the idea I’m trying to convey.

My infant granddaughter, Ava, arrived soon after I photographed the sunrise. She napped a few times during the course of our time together. She fell asleep in my arms, when I swayed gently with her, and when I lay her on my bent legs so we could face each other. As she rested in her human cradle, I found myself feeling bad about conditions in her life. But then I heard, “Source it higher” and recalled the luminous image of the sunrise trees – and lifted into a state of trust. I thought of how many challenging circumstances I’ve lived through and realized that my own life experience will help me to trust in her strength and guide her to discover her own strength and resilience. It seemed the spectacular sunrise was the source of the energy I was giving Ava – the energy she was feeding on, even as she slept.

“Source it higher,” backed by the sunrise image, has quickly become my new mantra that helps to dispel worry and fear. It reminds me to unplug myself from a lower source of energy and tap into a higher, more luminous source. Without a mother or grandmother in my life anymore, it seems to be up to me to hold the faith and nurture subsequent generations. Connecting with that light eases my worries and allows me to trust what is and what is in the process of becoming.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

100 Things in 2016

100 Things in 2016

Today is a powerful energy day! Not only is it a new moon, but it’s also Losar (Tibetan New Year) and Chinese New Year. The year of the fire monkey. In Tibetan Astrology, Phillipe Cornu describes the year of monkey as:

“extremely rich and holds many surprises—anything can happen. This is a year in which one must be cunning and seize new initiatives. All opportunities are open and one should be flexible enough to take advantage of them. This is a year of daring progress, not for the slow or timid.”

Well, count me in! I spent the first month of 2016 working hard to steer my life in a new direction by transforming from the inside out. I have been experiencing some pretty incredible shifts that leave me feeling a sense of hopeful anticipation, and I’d like to share a little of the magic with you!

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been working with a new and inspiring tool: Leonie Dawson’s  2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook. I carry it with me everywhere and have been using it to brainstorm goals, set intentions, and map out my year. It’s an incredibly motivating resource.

One of the most powerful features of the workbook is the “100 Things to Do in 2016” list. This is a list of things large and small that I would like to make happen this year. Although it was a little intimidating at first, I managed to come up more than 100 ideas and could have kept going. But I decided it would serve me better to limit it to 100, so I moved some off the list and onto the back burner for future consideration. Some of the items are things I’ve wanted to do for a long time or am curious about. Others are activities that will force me to stretch out of my comfort zone and say yes to things I’ve been resisting all my life – things that don’t come easily to me at all. I’ve already accomplished some of the goals on my list and feel that the list helps me to live a more amplified and creative life in greater alignment with my true self and really gets the energy flowing! I feel so much more engaged and alive and have no room for thoughts that used to weigh me down.

Throughout January, I worked on creating my “100 list” and mapping as many items as possible into my 2016 planner. I find that mapping it prevents me from trying to take on too much all at once. When it’s written in my planner, I can take a deep breath and know I will get to it in time. And with a few different balls up in the air, mapping it out ensures that I will attend to seasonal tasks (such as developing summer workshops/classes and creating inventory for my Etsy shop) without missing the boat. There are other, smaller items that I couldn’t pencil in right off the bat but will revisit at the end of each month to consider whether the time is right to add them to my planner.  For instance, this month one of my more lighthearted goals is to take a tai chi class. It’s been nearly 30 years since I tried tai chi. It’s something I’m curious about and feel drawn to. I want to give it a try to see if I like it. See if it’s something that might be useful. If not, I can at least say I tried it. Keep the chi flowing!

My 100 list keeps me on track with my goals – many of which are about putting an infrastructure in place for my creative work and newly launched photography business. My focus on infrastructure includes technical knowledge, technology, social media, and the “business piece” that will allow me to do what I love more effectively and efficiently and generate more income from it. The business piece is not something I have ever enjoyed or felt comfortable doing but is something I cannot avoid if I want to make a living doing what I love.

Another aspect of the infrastructure I’m putting in place involves the thoughts I think and how I utilize my feelings to direct my thoughts and raise my vibration. Eckhart Tolle maintained, “You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state,” and I am finding that working on my inner state is critical – every bit as critical as taking action.

My main outcome is to feel good. I’m letting inspiration, intuition, and curiosity drive me and see where I go, and my 100 list is my roadmap. There are a few items that are really big goals for which I have listed and mapped several steps. So I have some particular destinations in mind, but I’m also open to possibilities that arise in the process. It’s a monkey year, after all!

Maybe it will turn out that something related to what I’m already doing will be how I generate the bulk of my income. Or maybe something I’ll discover in the process will lead me to new, lucrative opportunities I’m not yet aware of. I am experimenting with following what I feel drawn to and living a bigger, more colorful, dynamic, amplified, engaged, and inspired life!

A lot of work went into creating my 100 list. In the process, I:

  • Brainstormed by filling out workbook sections for creative, soul, mind, relationship, family, body, house, travel and adventure, finances, community, self-care, and support goals
  • Created “magical mountain maps” for my two biggest goals
  • Went through my Pinterest boards to find intriguing ideas I haven’t tried yet
  • Was inspired by other women’s lists and ideas shared in the Facebook group of (mostly) women who are using the workbook
  • Drew upon resources including: notes from presentations I attended, lightning flash inspirations, advice from my spiritual guide, and inspiring materials I came across in the process of purging household possessions
  • Recalled things I’ve been wanting to do but never got around to.

After creating my 100 list, I grouped the items into categories, prioritized them, and put the most important and/or urgent ones in my planner. In addition, I broke down two of my biggest goals into smaller steps and put each step into my planner. It probably sounds like a great deal of work – and it is – but I find great value in doing it because it helps me to:

  • Really take inventory of my dreams and desires and map out a course of action
  • Remember what is most important to me – and make each day count
  • Challenge myself to stretch out of my comfort zone and grow
  • Keep life juicy and inspired
  • Brainstorm and notice what resonates most – and focus on that
  • Stay on track and get the work done to manifest my goals.

I carry my “manifestation tote bag” everywhere. It is my magical tool box that includes:

  • My workbook and companion diary planner
  • Colored Sharpies (two different styles), including special metallic ones
  • My gratitude journal
  • Sketch book (because some of my goals are artistic)
  • An inspirational book I’m reading

I also keep two highly inspiring audiobooks in my car to listen to as I’m driving around: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer.

I keep all these resources close to me at all times because you never know when ideas and inspiration will visit! The workbook is also a great source of support because I took the time to reflect on:

  • How I want to spend my time (and use it more efficiently)
  • My personal mottos and affirmations
  • My strengths and “amazing habits”
  • My sacred word for the year and ideas for embodying it
  • My medicine bag of what I can turn to when I’m low on energy or inspiration
  • “Things to do when everything sucks”.

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In addition, I created an “attunement lantern” (which I sell in my Etsy shop) around the theme of abundance (my sacred word for the year)

Attunement Lantern Miracle

…and a dream board that helps me to remember my dreams and intentions every day. (I keep it next to my bed so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up and then bring it downstairs so I’ll see it during the day.)

Dream Board

I also created two vision boards on Pinterest that I can keep adding to and changing around as I feel inspired. One is a general vision board, and the other is a photography vision board. And I keep labyrinth art in sight to remind me that sometimes when it seems like I’m far from reaching my goal, I’m just about there – so keep going!

As you can see, I’m serious about transforming my mind, energy, and life by surrounding myself with resources and reminders of my goals and intentions. When I hold them in my awareness, I have more energy and attract all kinds of clues, insights, possibilities, conversations, serendipity, and magic moments that I might not have noticed or encountered otherwise. My intuition is supercharged and at the wheel, and I am having a full-blown love affair with inspiration that makes it easier to deal with the stuff that isn’t so fun or doesn’t come easily. Life feels much more expansive than it used to, and I place my trust in that.

I also check in daily with a large online tribe of women who are also using the workbooks and a much smaller masterminding/support group. This community is an incredible support system. We share our goals and the progress we are making, celebrate one another’s accomplishments, and encourage one another when we experience blocks and setbacks. Reading the “100 lists” other women have shared was so inspiring and helped me to create my own list. That is why I will end this post by sharing my own list with you. Another benefit of sharing our lists is to communicate what we want to accomplish, and then we can let one another know about opportunities and resources we come across that might be of interest. Being part of this community guides me to so many useful and inspiring resources I might not have found on my own or so soon. It speeds everything up, and I feel ignited!

Although it may sound corny, I wake up in the morning and wonder what I will learn, create, and accomplish today and where I will find beauty and inspiration. That motivates me to spring out of bed ready to engage with intuition and curiosity and see where it leads. It gives me the energy to take action and go to the places that scare me, fueled by gratitude and intentions and supported by a community of kindred spirits. So far, I have discovered that the combination of inspiration, intuition, curiosity, and gratitude is magical and transformative and takes life up a notch! This is my year of experimenting with Alan Watts’ question: How would you really enjoy spending your life? I wonder where this journey will take me through the course of the year. So far, it is anything but status quo – which seems like an apropos way to begin this fire monkey year!

Before sharing my 100 list, I want to share two videos that have inspired me greatly. The first is narrated by Alan Watts

…and the second is a presentation by Elizabeth Gilbert: Flight of the Hummingbird: The Curiosity Driven Life (click on title to view video).

And finally…

Here is my categorized

LIST OF 100 THINGS TO DO IN 2016

Creativity

  • Complete my book (multiple steps – mapped in my planner).
  • Have a photography exhibit.
  • Photograph:
    • Northern Lights
    • A sunlit, frosted willow (Winter)
    • Snowflakes (Winter)
    • Really creative scenes featuring the full moon and a person and/or prop
    • A spectacular sunrise or sunset over the ocean
    • Pink water lilies
    • Hot air balloons (Lake George Balloon Festival, September 22-25)
    • [My daughter] (and other pregnant women)
    • [My daughter] (and other new moms and babies)
    • Hospice patients (capture the light/essence that shines through as the physical body becomes more transparent)
    • Orbs
  • Video:
    • Ocean waves (production quality)
    • Fireflies in the back yard
  • Write a poem inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, “Gratitude”.
  • Write about moments when I wished I’d had my camera.
  • Practice calligraphy.
  • Make a mandala from natural materials (Danmala for inspiration).
  • Collect pressed flowers and ferns for art projects. (May-August)
  • Create beautiful papers with acrylic inks and plastic wrap. (January)
  • Make photo candles.
  • Create zentangles.
  • Decorate rocks with Sharpie and/or acrylic paint (and inspirational words).
  • Record a guided meditation.

Creativity: Technical

  • Learn how to use the video function on my camera.
  • Take a Lightroom and/or Photoshop course. (January-February)
  • Finish reading the book about my camera.
  • Attend presentations at Exposure (photography guild).
  • Purge photo library.

Creativity: Business

  • Create awesome résumés.
  • Compose a really great Artist’s Statement.
  • Connect with TB regarding photography biz.
  • Learn all I can about wedding photography. (February-March)
  • Buy a screen and another strobe for portrait/indoor photography. (February-March)
  • Enter a photography contest.
  • Get my photo coasters into stores for tourist season. (May)
  • Apply for and receive an artist grant. (August – Community Arts Grant seminars)
  • Participate in a craft fair. (September: SSPL Maker Faire)

Online Business & Social Media

  • Redesign my website, and add a shopping feature.
  • Boost social media following and mailing list dramatically.
  • Master Instagram, and post daily.
  • Sculpt Linked In presence.
  • Share blog posts and images on Pinterest.
  • Purge and migrate Flickr photos to a new platform. (Behance or Zenfolio?)
  • Make branding consistent across all social media.
  • Connect with JL about selling art online.
  • Create and sell 100 calendars. (October-December)
  • Have a giveaway to build my mailing list.
  • Offer spirit lanterns via my Etsy shop.
  • Explore passive income opportunities (including stock photography).

Teaching

  • Provide creative classes/workshops based on mini courses I’ve already developed, “the best of” my classroom activities, and what I am most passionate about.
  • Create a course menu with descriptions and price ranges. (February)
  • Re-establish a relationship with [a local independent school].

Finances & Prosperity

  • Complete the Money Manifestation course (January)
  • Make a habit of feeling my “Thriving Creative” money persona.
  • Create a filing system for business expenses and record keeping.
  • Resume my full student loan payments, and pay off Sallie Mae loan completely.
  • Get into the habit of searching Craigslist for opportunities.

Spirit

  • Float monthly in a float tank.
  • Go on retreat at Light on the Hill. (September)
  • Do all the experiments in the E-Squared book by Pam Grout.
  • Make a photo album of magic moments and serendipity.
  • Make a gorgeous and inspiring physical vision board.
  • Make and maintain a Pinterest vision board.
  • Maintain a list of inspirational quotes to pair with images and share online.
  • Practice leaning into and ventilating thoughts that arise with an emotional charge rather than getting hooked or resisting them.
  • Discover and walk new labyrinths.
  • Have an astrological reading with Rick Jarow.
  • Experiment with tapping.
  • Take a tai chi class.
  • Participate in a drumming circle.

Body

  • Take yoga classes at the YMCA and/or online (Yoga with Adriene).
  • Whip up a batch of body butter.
  • Obtain a Comfort U body pillow.
  • Have a gift massage from [a local massage studio].
  • Buy a pair of hiking boots to replace the pair I had to discard.

Exploration & Travel

  • Go to the beach.
  • Visit [relatives] in Vancouver/Sunshine Coast. (May or August)
  • Visit [friend] in Wyoming/Yellowstone.
  • Visit Watkins Glen State Park when the fall foliage is at peak and photograph waterfalls. (October)
  • Hike Cascadilla gorge.
  • Hike Robert H. Treman State Park trail.
  • Visit The Wild Center.

Home

  • Purge SO MUCH STUFF. If I don’t use it and it doesn’t bring me joy, let it go! (January-February)
  • Create a home workshop/office space.
  • Clean tarnished jewelry.
  • Grow an herb garden. (May)
  • Obtain a larger, comfortable bed.

Family & Relationships

  • Take [my son] to visit Ithaca College.
  • Attend and photograph Ava’s birth.
  • Write a love letter to Ava.
  • Watch Downton Abbey with Dad.
  • Obtain a baby sling(s) for [my daughter].
  • Use Hilton gift certificate.
  • Make a meal for someone who could use it.
  • Have a garage/estate sale.

Community

  • Hold gatherings for making spiritual, season-inspired art with other women.
  • Leave positive, empowering messages in public places.
  • Accept invitations from female friends.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer andRiver Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

September Mist

September Mist

After a late night canning, dehydrating, and otherwise processing another bushel (my fourth this month) of freshly harvested vegetables, I needed to sleep in this morning! However, the street noise prevented that from happening. After trying for a while, I finally gave up and opened my eyes, knowing it would be irresistible.

And it was. It was downright amazing.

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It was an Oh. My. God sunrise (uttered with the utmost reverence).

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And to make it even more astonishing, a low-flying bald eagle flew right over me as I stood on the dock in awe of the misty, colorful landscape that surrounded me.

I am in the process of generating a list of monthly themes for a forthcoming book that has been in the works for quite some time. Here in the Northeast, September is rich in visual and spiritual themes to appreciate and contemplate, and the morning mist is certainly one of them. Though it covers a portion of the landscape, it also reveals the brilliant and otherwise largely invisible designs of spider webs. The mist fascinates me every September.

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When I came back inside after experiencing the extraordinary sunrise on the river, my son was getting ready for school, and I beseeched him to stop what he’s doing and go outside NOW. I told him he needed to stand on the dock and be surrounded by the mist. Although he didn’t get caught up in my sense of urgency, he did make it outside a few minutes later. From inside the house, I watched him take it all in and felt he was possibly learning the most important lesson he’d learn all day: How to stop, tune in, and experience the grandeur of the natural world. How to fill up with the light of the sunrise. How to notice and appreciate the simple and magnificent moments of life.

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A few afternoons ago, I gave him a ride to his dad’s house and noticed an adjacent field glowing pink from some kind of grass that accents the September landscape. I admired it and told my son I wanted to photograph it. He replied, saying it’s incredible in the morning, when it looks like a blanket of clouds covering the ground in the morning mist.

I returned the next morning to experience it myself. It was a dreamy and captivating sight. I was grateful that my son shared his observation with me.

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And I was even more grateful that he noticed in the first place. Actually, he admitted later that his girlfriend was the one who noticed it first. But it must have made an impression on him, and that is the whole point.

It’s a blessing when someone awakens us to beauty we wouldn’t have known about or noticed otherwise. Sometimes we need others to open our eyes to the artistry and magnificence of the world around us, that we ourselves are part of. I believe that anything that enriches and inspires us helps us to water and grow the God-seed planted in us. And I have a feeling that expanding that part of our self and the universe is what it’s ultimately all about.

May you have a blessed week!

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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