Sometimes I Do Not Believe You by Rachel Abrahams

Something happened to me recently that completely floored me. It's not often when I am left speechless but this left me stuttering and gaping my mouth like a fish out of water. 

I was networking at an event just chatting away and answering question for people. It was mostly the same questions over and over so I was getting my speech pretty down pat. A woman walked up to me, started to ask her question, stopped herself, and then said "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry but you are just stunning. Your hair, your coloring and what an amazing smile. You just stopped me in my tracks. Sorry if that's weird I just feel like I had to tell you". 

Satellite Beach, FL

Satellite Beach, FL

Yup, I was left speechless. This perfect stranger just gave me the most amazing compliment and all I could do was stammer out a "Wow, thanks, uhhhhhhhh" and then thankfully my brain kickstarted itself back into gear and I attempted to continue to have a conversation with her. After we chatted and I answered her questions, I thanked her again and she walked away.

 I really doubt this woman remembers this moment all that clearly but here I am still thinking about it and in wonderment of how kind she was. It's also made me think more about her unsolicited compliment and how I reacted. 

 At first, I was in shock (What, me? Not the person behind me? Are you sure?) and then it turned into unease (Is she pulling my leg? What if she is making fun of me?) and then I came up with answers to explain her compliment (Maybe it’s because of the shirt color I was wearing. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe she wasn’t wearing her glasses and I was a multihued but happy blur). Yup, I am a pro at second guessing myself.

Satellite Beach, Florida

Satellite Beach, Florida

How many of you suck at taking compliments? Your immediate reaction is to downplay what someone said or even not believe them at all. I once heard when you don't believe someone's compliment you are essentially calling them a liar and that really stuck with me. There are people in your life who tell you wonderful things about yourself and you don’t believe them. Are they liars? No? Then maybe it's time to start listening to (and believing) what they say. Don’t worry though, I say this knowing I am in the Doubting Thomas of Compliments Club.

 I also tend to behave poorly when people highly compliment my photography. I will say oh that one was popular because everyone loves the beach or people love that because it’s got bright fun colors. I know I am being a dummy because people wouldn’t say nice things if they didn’t mean it. Unfortunately, it is a terrible habit of mine to not believe the positively awesome comments given to me.

My theory is that many other folks (myself included) have a tendency to not believe they are the ultimate at something unless there’s arbitrary data to prove it. For instance, people think they aren’t truly beautiful unless they’re famous or a model. They aren’t talented artists unless they have a bajillion social media followers. They aren’t funny unless they are getting paid gigs as a comic. They aren’t skinny unless they fit into size 00.

Satellite Beach, FL

Satellite Beach, FL

So why don’t we trust other people’s eyeballs and hearts when they take the time to say wonderfully kind things about us? Why do we believe these arbitrary numbers and data as being proof of our fantasticalness? I am honestly not sure since I know I perpetuate this problem so here’s my own small answer that will help make me feel better about it, a letter to that kind woman:

Dear Wonderful Lady,

I wish my brain had worked properly that day you took the time to say the nicest thing to me. If so, I would have said a proper and genuine thank you. I also would have tried to ask you more questions about yourself and get to know you better (I can’t even recall your name. It flew out of my mind in shock and awe) rather than moving on to another subject in my discomfort of being complimented. I know I can’t change that day but I do hope you continue to say what you really feel and let the beautiful positive words flow out of you. You are being the change I wish to see in the world and I want to adopt your method as a role model for me. I also endeavor to believe the people in my life when they tell me I’m awesome, wonderful, talented, and amazing. It may take some time and effort but I will work on it. Many heartfelt and genuine thanks.

This Is Why Sheep And I Are Not Friends by Rachel Abrahams

One of the best things that comes from traveling is the stories. I am talking about the really awesome stories you get to tell later to all your friends and family of your adventures and fun times. In my world, these stories tend to be pretty outrageous. I have this tendency for the absurd to follow me wherever I go. When I get back from a trip, you won’t hear the story about visiting a museum and then eating gelato afterwards (which, is a good story but that’s just too vanilla for me). I have this amazing weirdo magnet which includes attracting really off the wall situations (like the time I broke my tailbone while riding a bike in Central Park ----- hours before my flight to Paris).

I was going through old photos and found one I took while I studied abroad in Ireland and it made me laugh so hard. Not because of what was in the photo – but because of the story behind it. Before my classes started, I traveled the west coast of Ireland up to Northern Ireland and then back down to Dublin. I was in a large van/bus of about 20 people and I was the only American on the bus. Most everyone else was a mix of Australian, Canadian, and French. George W. Bush was President, which meant by being the only American I was the butt of quite a few of the group’s political jokes.

The photo that inspired this post (2003)

The photo that inspired this post (2003)

Most of the tour was spent with me keeping my head in a book, listening to music, and attempting to befriend the other solo female traveler, who was very shy. Otherwise, the other travelers enjoyed the game of:

Them: Hey – American girl. What do you call fringe?

Me: Bangs

Them: HAHAHAHAHHAHA. What do you call thongs?

Me: Flip Flops. We call certain underwear thongs.

Them: HAHAHAHAHHAHA

(shampoo, rinse, repeat)

Needless to say, I stuck my face as far into my book as possible to try and become invisible.

Eventually our bus made one of its usual random stops and the driver announced to everyone “Alright! Up this hill is Queen Maeve’s grave and you guys can go climb up to see it”. He then went into the story behind Queen Maeve and explained how she was a warrior queen who ruled for over 60 years and was buried up this hill in a vertical position so she could face her enemies.

After he finished his story, I looked out the window into a very dreary, cold, wet, and foggy day (typical Irish weather), saw that this hill looked more like a mountain to my unathletic eye, and it was covered in craggy rocks and grass with no really clear trail. I was having my doubts about whether or not this was real or if it was his attempt to make tourists climb haphazardly on a hill so he could be entertained. I hunkered down in my seat deciding this athletic endeavor was not my cup of tea but then was practically dragged out my seat by some of the other travelers and convinced to join them.

What I wanted to do instead of climb a "hill" (2003)

What I wanted to do instead of climb a "hill" (2003)

I zipped up my raincoat, tucked the umbrella in my pocket, and then set off following the herd. It wasn’t long before I was left behind, slipping, getting stuck in mud, and flailing about hoping not to fall on my head. It was hot in my raincoat but too cold to take it off and I kept thinking “I should just turn around and go back. This sucks”. Out loud, I was cursing up a storm the local Irish would have been very proud of.

I finally made up my mind it was time to quit (or maybe my inability to get enough oxygen into my brain because I couldn’t catch my breath convinced me) when I got my shoe stuck in mud, yanked it out, lost my balance, and then fell forward onto the ground. I landed with a loud splat but had managed to hold myself off the ground so only my hands and knees were covered in mud. Or what I thought was mud. After processing through the searing pain in my hands and knees, I looked down to realize I had BOTH of my hands almost wrist deep in sheep poop. Yup, I found myself a pile of sheep poop to land in on a giant hill. I sat down on the grass and tried to wipe as much of the poop off my hands as I could using the grass and rocks but the smell, oh the smell, wouldn’t go away.

With even more angry curse words and some unforgivable phrases muttered to the Irish saints, I trucked back down the way I came but at a painfully slow pace to avoid falling again. I made it to the bus to find the driver had no paper towels and no hand sanitizer. He wouldn’t pull my suitcase from under the bus because it would mean unloading everyone’s. He wouldn’t let me on the bus until the others showed up and we could see if they had towels. Everyone got back eventually, word spread I had fallen in poop, and the solution was to pour a bottle of water on my hands and then to tie plastic bags on them. I then sat on the bus for 1.5 hours until we could stop and I could wash them.

How I prefer my sheep - at a distance (2003)

How I prefer my sheep - at a distance (2003)

Needless to say, I was not a fan of the Irish sheep at that moment. Great news is, I got it all cleaned off eventually and for some reason my embarrassment broke the ice between me and the shy female traveler I had been trying to befriend, which made the rest of the trip quite enjoyable. I am also happy to report that although I did run into quite a few more sheep on my trip (they are big fans of hanging out in the road and blocking traffic) I managed to not run afoul of their poop.

You take your wins wherever you can get them.

I hope you enjoyed this story and the old photos to go with it.

Sometimes You Have To Prioritize by Rachel Abrahams

With the holidays coming, I decided to take an enforced internet break and enjoy my time off. I had plans to then come back fresh and ready to rock and roll for the new year……..and then my plans got a little sidetracked. I admit, it’s been nice to know I haven’t been forgotten when I got inquiries from people wondering where I’ve been, is there a new blog post coming soon, and where are the new photos but it made me feel so bad to say “Not yet, it will have to wait”. So what the heck happened? Life happened. I mean LITERALLY life happened. My husband and I are having our first baby in August and these last few months until now have been a “take it one day at a time” experience where I am learning the superhuman I usually try to be has been taken over by an alien and my body is no longer my own to command.

Photo 1 of the 2 I edited in 3 months

Photo 1 of the 2 I edited in 3 months

So, I had to make some choices which included not blogging, doing social media, or editing photos. Well, that’s a lie because I did manage to get two solid weeks of Facebook done and even edited two photos (working at lightning speed these days, I tell ya). I had to choose because I have a full time job and run my photography business after hours and many of those after work hours have now been filled with me learning every day is a new day physically. I sometimes have to decide between doing the dishes and tidying the living room because I can’t seem to do both. Or either one at all.

It’s really not so terrible being forced into prioritizing my time. When things like this happen in life, you figure out what’s important and what can just slide on by. My schedule before was quite rigid with expectations and I didn’t cut myself much slack. Now, anything goes honestly. Sounds like I may be already prepping myself for survival with a kid, right? Yes, I know I have ZERO idea of how it will be and before anyone lamely gives me one of those sarcastic congratulations welcoming me to your club of Joker-smile-like-misery, I’ve heard enough of that. FYI – the “Your life is over” jokes are not funny. Keep that shizz to yourself. I prefer the loving kindness and excitement, please.

Photo 2 of the 2 I edited in 3 months

Photo 2 of the 2 I edited in 3 months

Another positive of this baby-imposed prioritizing? I decided to mute the people who seem to have a lot of rules. They were really exhausting me. The “you should” and the “you must” people got chucked out of my inbox and Facebook pretty quickly. Rules shmules. With my limited “feeling well enough” time, I need to do what makes me happy. That means slowing down, enjoying things more, smelling the roses, and whatever other happiness in the moment clichés there are out there.

I am terribly grateful because usually it’s when people receive terrible life altering sad news they decide to make these kinds of changes. Mine is the opposite. I was forced into reprioritizing because a new human is coming into my world and times they are-a-changing.

What have I been doing? Business-wise I have still been assisting customers and fulfilling orders. Personally, when I am not rearranging and organizing my entire house to make it ready for a human who will not notice at all (and then having to get the death stare from hubby when he discovers I moved a dresser by myself), I have been reading a ton of books. I find sitting down and reading doesn’t make me feel sick so it’s been a good way to pass the time. I’ve read 16 books so far in 2016 (out of my goal of 50 for this year).

Photo I edited specifically for this blog post. Highly productive night.

Photo I edited specifically for this blog post. Highly productive night.

So, let me leave you with a challenge today. Without having to go through a massive life change to motivate you, what steps could you take to reprioritize your life? What’s that thing that’s been nagging you with guilt (like thinking you should call your friends more) or a secret desire (like learning a new language) but you keep saying to yourself it isn’t happening because there isn’t enough time? Whatever you thought of, it sounds like you need to find a way to make the time. Even if that includes dropping all the “busyness” that makes you feel important (yes, many of us are addicted to how being busy makes our ego feel massaged but that’s a topic for a different time). Try it for a week. It will feel good, I promise. I had to learn to give myself a break and let my naturally overachieving obsessive personality take a breather (but it still pokes out when I decide to not wait for my husband and do several hours of yard work and then regret it for 2 days – I’m not perfect). 

Excuse Me, Your Nerd Is Showing by Rachel Abrahams

Have you ever had a secret you wanted to share but knew if you did, people would judge you? A part of you that felt a magnetic pull towards something and you just spent a lot of energy digging your feet into the ground, clawing at the dirt in the hopes of not finally get sucked into its vortex? Yeah, I spent many years doing that. I feigned being too cool and above it all and yet deep down inside there was a part of me that was 100%, dyed in the cloth, there’s no denying it Nerd (with a capital N).

In school, I did not shy away from working as hard possible to excel in every way. I refused to dumb myself down in order to be cool or have boys like me. I went to my AP and Honors classes to make the best grades and graduated high school with a bunch of college credit under my belt. I had great social skills and was really good at being able to make friends with pretty much anyone. Well, except for when people pointed out I constantly used words they didn’t understand (I have always had a huge vocabulary due to reading). Then I would try to speak more……normal? FYI – this still happens.

 Hogwarts Express - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

 Hogwarts Express - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

It wasn’t the book smarts I hid but my inclination to be interested in things many of my peers made fun of.  I pretended I didn’t like them either because I knew, deep down inside, once I embraced my true nerd nature there would be no turning back.

You know the fantastic news? As you get older, you don’t give a crap anymore and start doing the stuff you really want to do. Now I have no issue admitting I love awesomely geek culture. Websites, Facebook, Tumblr’s, Pinterest boards – I follow whatever is going to share info and inside jokes of the multiple nerd topics I love.

You probably realized all this about me already. I feel like hearing I like nerdy things is no true surprise here as I’ve touched on some of my fave subjects before but today I am going full tilt. I am laying it all out on the table and it’s kinda nerve wracking, ya know? I’ve spent so many years quietly enjoying whatever I want and not really telling too many people. 

Three Broomsticks - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Three Broomsticks - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

COMICS

I have (secretly) read comics almost all my life. I read Asterix and Obelix (a comic from France) as a kid while living in the Middle East and collected as many of the books as I could but then never saw them again when we moved to the U.S. Then I visited London, found them in a comic shop, and was back at it. With the digital era, I’ve gone full tilt into reading all sorts of comics. It’s a favorite pastime for the inspiring art and fun storylines. Marvel Unlimited, Comixology, trade paperbacks – yup. All of them. According to the guy at the local comic store (after I inquired if they had several comics I wanted to read and they didn’t) I tend to read “girl comics”. Whatever that means. If it means rockstar, then yes I read rockstar comics.

TV

My dad watched a lot of science fiction shows and I didn’t have a TV in my bedroom, so I watched them too. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Xena, Stargate, Doctor Who (the 80s episodes) and more. I have no doubt it influenced my affinity today for pretty much any show (or movie) that involves fantasy, superheroes, make believe, science fiction, unicorns, and general awesomeness. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Arrow, Supernatural, Once Upon a Time - and the list goes on and on.

Ollivander's Wands  - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Ollivander's Wands  - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

BOOKS

Young adult paranormal and fantasy books are my Achilles heel. I have long left the idea I have to force myself to read novels that are usually on those “Top 600 Cultured Books To Read Before You Die” lists (thank you public education for making me read many of them and not want to read them ever again). Do I want to slog through a book just because the book critics say it’s what adults do? NOPE. Give me my Harry Potter, Hunger Games, The Giver, Wrinkle In Time, and whatever else escapist books that make me feel like magic is real, tangible, and if I look closely enough there are fairies hiding in the bushes at night.

MOVIES

Well, we all know majority of the best movies are based on wonderful comics and books, right? Yes, I do own every Marvel movie. Yes, I do have all of the Lord of the Rings movies. Do I own multiple versions of the Harry Potter films? Ummmm – hell yes. Did my husband give me the iTunes release of all 6 Star Wars movies? Yup, cuz he’s amazing. Are the books better than the movies? Most of the time it’s a definite yes except for Lord of the Rings. Those books were a total snooooozefest for me (cue the internet rage and rotten tomatoes thrown my way). In other words, stick some imaginary creature, superhero, or trip into space into the plot and I am pre-buying my ticket while figuring out my popcorn/candy/soda combo (very important).

Potage's Cauldron Shop - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Potage's Cauldron Shop - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

For all my nerd affinity, there are huge pop culture things I haven’t gotten into (ya know, day job, photography business, and marriage kind of take up some of my time) and it usually shocks the hell out of people who know me that I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or the latest seasons of Dr. Who, played video games since Nintendo, gone to a comic convention, or read the His Dark Materials trilogy. I’ll get around to them at some point (maybe not the video games).

So there you have it. All laid out in one space to either make you laugh (with me), cry (in happiness), or run away (to go find other things to recommend to me). It's on the internet, loud and proud, so next time someone says “Man, you are such a nerd” I can respond “Yup and let me recommend something awesome for you. I promise, it will blow your mind.....”

 

If you love this, it would make my heart so happy if you shared it. Pass it along to anyone else you think would enjoy reading it too using the share button below.