Creativity Takes Courage by Rachel Abrahams

NYC - Central Park Bethesda Terrace

NYC - Central Park Bethesda Terrace

I recently dyed my hair purple. Bright Grimace/Barney purple (you remember them, right? Am I dating myself? Did either of those characters give you nightmares too? Or was it just me?). Now, before you go imagining my head looking like a grape, it’s not ALL purple. I mixed it in with my usual copper red and it’s just enough where people look again and ask “Do you have purple in your hair?” and I answer very proudly “Yup”. I know purple hair isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (my husband isn’t really a fan but he also said it’s my hair) but you know what lesson I have learned recently in life? I don’t have to shape myself to other expectations – just what I love. What makes me happy? Having purple hair makes me happy and that’s all that matters.

It takes courage to step outside the normal boxes. It takes having a DGAFlip attitude on the surface and then making sure your insides are along for the ride even when you may be having some doubts about it (fake it til you make it, right?).  That’s true courage, in my opinion. Therefore, I can call myself Captain Courageous for rocking out the purple hair and not caring (I was tempted to rhyme there but I can only nerd out so much before you all kick me to the curb).

San Diego, California

San Diego, California

You know what else takes courage? Creativity. And honestly you can’t be a truly creative individual until you believe in yourself. If you worry too much about failing, about what others think, and about standing out from the crowd - all of these worries will lead to failure. Or not even trying at all.

I hear people tell me all the time they aren’t creative. When people say that to me, I can guess they are either in 1 of 2 groups.

Group 1: They don’t realize something they do often is actually very creative


Group 2: They have lost the courage to try

Do you think you aren’t a creative person? Which camp do you fall into?

Maybe you are someone who doesn’t realize you do something creative all the time and are overlooking it. Just because you aren’t putting a paint brush, glue gun, or musical instrument in your hand doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Do you cook? Garden? Do interior design? Journal? Love fashion? Makeup? Hair? Tattoos? Reading? Karaoke? Pairing your rainbow colored kicks collection with your outfits? All of these (and so many more) are ways you are being creative and don’t even realize. Knock it off. Give yourself a hand. You are not giving yourself enough credit.

NYC - View From Empire State Building

NYC - View From Empire State Building

So, what about if you are in Group 2, where you’ve just lost the courage to try and be creative? Remember how I dyed my hair purple? If I let fear dictate my choices, I’d still be walking around with normal hair (but wishing deep down inside I had purple hair). If you want to be more creative, you just gotta suck it up and DO IT. Harsh words, I know, but don’t let fear of failing or sucking at it prevent you from trying. You know how creative people become more creative? They fail. Yup, they try something and fail and then take those lessons learned and try again – and again – and again – and then hit their stride. In these days of social media, you don’t know this anymore because people only share the awesome stuff.

One of my biggest regrets as a photographer is I spent the first 4 years of running my photography business being afraid. I was afraid to break the “rules”. What rules? Oh, the ones I kept hearing photographers spout on different message boards or comments on Flickr saying things like “too much Photoshop”, “looks fake”, “good photographs need minimal editing”, etc. What if they said that about me and my photographs? So, I tried (and failed) to follow those rules. It’s not the first time I’ve been a failure at following rules. Guess what? Remember that DGAFlip attitude? Now, I make my own rules. More color? YES. Brighter? YES. Blow out the sky? SURE, WHY NOT. If it makes my heart happy – that’s the only rule to follow.

Paris, France - Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris, France - Notre Dame Cathedral

I also was afraid of trying something different and then finding I hated it but realized quickly that’s the only way to grow. I edit photos all the time and then go back weeks/months later and decide I don’t like it and I will just start over. It happens. What do I learn? How NOT to do it. What else? I am refining my own taste.

What does this soapbox rant mean? I swear I have a point. Don’t let your fear of sucking at something prevent you from trying it. Don’t let that be your excuse of why you aren’t a creative person. Cuz if you tell me that, I will call you on your bullhockey and say “WHOMP! Try again. Give me a legitimate reason for not doing it”. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be attempted. Progress NOT perfection.

What’s the only rule? HAVE SOME FREAKIN’ FUN, people. That’s it. Enjoy it. Laugh when your dessert you attempted to create falls apart from the oven (and then smile in delight when it still tastes amazing despite looking like a literal hot mess). Add alcohol into the equation and make it a friends night together trying something different. If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing.

It takes courage to be creative. You have it in you but it just might take thinking outside whatever self-limiting box you’ve imposed on yourself. So how are you going to do it? You don’t have to dye your hair purple like me (although I would welcome you into the Purple Durple Hair Club with the most open arms ever) but there’s something fun and different you’ve been interested to try. Now is the time. Do it.

P.S. If you are looking for something super simple and low barrier to entry for being creative, try coloring in those new coloring books for adults (no, not THAT kind of adult. As in – coloring books with designs that are less Care Bear and Disney and more patterns and shapes). Here are some examples on Amazon

P.P.S. Did you notice the theme of the photos?


Romance Shmomance at the Love Locks Bridge | Paris Photography by Rachel Abrahams

When we visited Paris and saw the "Love Locks Bridge", we had no idea it would be the last time we'd get the chance to do so. Since our visit, it's been all over the news how the locks are damaging the bridges (parts of a bridge collapsed from the weight), making things unsafe, and creating more headaches for the locals than they'd bargained for. So, Paris has taken the locks down and decided to replace them (temporarily) with art exhibits until the final glass panels are in place. 

The Love Locks are a phenomenon that have swept all over the world where many countries (Germany, South Korea, Russia, China, Serbia, Czech Republic, and Italy - to name a few) now have love locks covering various bridges, fences, and anywhere locks can easily be snapped on and then the lovers throw away the key. 

Why did the locks become so popular? 

There's a romantic appeal for the public declaration of your love and dedication to each other. I have to admit it isn't something I understand since my most public declaration of love was at my own wedding and otherwise my husband and I tend to keep our lovey-doveyness to ourselves. For many though, the idea of writing their names on locks, attaching that love lock to a scenic location like the Ponts des Arts Bridge in Paris and then symbolically throwing away the key into the Seine river was an act of public declaration which would ensure their love would last forever.

Who says romance is dead? 

Supposedly the tradition began almost 100 years ago in Serbia where a woman fell in love with an officer. They declared their love for each other but when he went off to war he fell in love with another. She died of a broken heart and women have since flocked to the bridge where the couple used to meet and placed their love locks on the bridge to protect their own relationships.  

It was very sweet to walk along the bridge and see the names of couples on the locks, imagining them excitedly picking out "their" lock (whether ahead of time or at one of the multiple vendors selling locks nearby), adding their name and message for each other, and then taking the time to pick the forever location where the lock would spend the rest of its days.

As we walked the bridge, there were a few couples adding their locks to the few remaining spaces. It was a bright and hot day with the locks glittering in the sunlight and adding a surreal effect while moving from one end of the bridge to the other. My husband and I did not purchase a lock (remember - we aren't much for the public lovey doveyness) but I did enjoy getting to walk around and take as many photos as I could.

I've read they have now removed the bridge walls by sections, with the locks still intact, to then recycle the locks and replace the walls with all new glass panels. 

So, the City of Love's most recently trending tourist location has undergone a facelift but it's unlikely those who want to shout their love from the rooftops (or write it in a sharpie on a metal padlock) will be held down for long. I have no doubt that soon enough, a new location in Paris will be selected with a new tradition for couples to share their love with the world. Will it be writing names on heart-shaped rocks and then piling them in front of the Eiffel Tower like a big game of rock landslide jenga? Climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and then throwing paper airplanes from the top with the message of love written inside, to watch them fly around the traffic circle and dodging cars? Or maybe purchasing tiny little gargoyles to paint in whatever colors you want and then give them a home around Notre Dame Cathedral? Yup, all terrible ideas by me which is how you know I am NOT the most creatively romantic person (but if in the unlikely event any of these do become a thing - you read it here first).

The good news is, those who are creative romantics will find a way to express their love again. Look out Paris.  

Anxiety Makes Me Do Weird Things | Getting To Know Me Series by Rachel Abrahams

I am a big believer that our life’s stories shape how we view the world and especially how we create art. I realize although many of you appreciate my photography and enjoy reading my stories, you may not really know all that much about me. Today is my second post in this "Getting To Know Me" series to give you a chance to “see behind the curtain”. You can read thefirst post here.When my husband married me, he knew (and loved) that there were certain "quirks" about me that came along with the entire package. Things like my penchant for swearing, an overactive imagination (as noted here), the inability to control the volume of my voice while drinking, my obsession with reading books, a nerd culture affinity, my ability to get lost in a paper bag (I thank my stars every day for GPS), and the strong desire to always improve myself.

He also knew there was going to be a third party in our relationship - my anxiety.

Now, when people think of anxiety they get this image of a trembling chihuahua hiding under the covers of the blanket with only their eyes peeking out. Although, yes I've done this when someone unexpectedly knocks on my door and I don't have a bra on, that's not exactly what anxiety overall looks like.

The best description I can think of is I have an extremely rational side that does a daily battle of the wills against my anxiety gremlin living in my brain. As I've gotten older, I've worked very hard to learn tools and activities to Hulk up my rational side so it will be less exhausted and can stand tall against the anxiety gremlin, therefore winning more of the battles, but I am definitely far from perfect. My rational side can get exhausted and will sometimes even quit on me and then the anxiety gremlin, like a toddler, runs rampant with the freedom to just color all over the walls, the couch, and the dog of my brain.

Here are some examples of things I do, which I KNOW with all of my rational self are dumb, but when anxiety wins I can make some very odd decisions.

Weird Thing #1: I will drive to a grocery store that is completely out of my way in order to lessen the chance of running into someone I know. I already cannot stand grocery shopping (who can I pay to do this for me? I am completely serious) and the idea of running into someone I know and being forced into the awkward "Hey, how are you? How's life? How's your parents? How's the job?" conversation makes my right eyelid twitch and my palms sweat. To avoid this, I drive 20 minutes out of my way, wear headphones, and scurry in/out so fast I feel like The Flash. If I forget anything, too bad/so sad, I will make do without it until the next time I am forced to go to the store (that's usually when I run out of toilet paper and don't want to buy the 4 pack at Walgreens. Yes, I will check Walgreens first).

Weird Thing #2: While sitting in a group of people bantering back and forth, I will want to jump in but my anxiety gremlin will barrel in with guns blazing and all of a sudden my adrenaline will skyrocket like I am in fight-or-flight mode. When I do choose to jump in my brain scrambles the frequency and my response will be something like "Farfegnugen" or I will just laugh overly loud like a hyena and make everyone look at me like I am an alien. I have learned I am much better conversing one-on-one and when I am in a group, I stop beating myself up for not participating. I try to sit back and enjoy the show instead.

Weird Thing #3: I will sometimes rehash conversations I had with people years ago and cringe in embarrassment and think of a million different ways I wish that conversation had gone. When I was younger, I would even write down in my journal "next time, I will do x, y, and z instead", like I was prepping for a life strategy battle. I am better about it now and have adopted the "F**k it / it is what it is / quit yer whining" attitude more often. There are times where I get sucked back into that vortex and have to really push to stop remembering the dumbest perceived mistakes I think I have made. I try distracting myself with things like snapchat or acting silly (or snapchatting myself acting silly).

Weird Thing #4: The old me used to say yes to anyone and everything and then I would spend days agonizing leading up to whatever I agreed to do trying to figure out how to get out of it or psych myself into wanting to do it. I spent most of my 20's coming down with a lot of random food poisonings or illnesses. It's a wonder my friends didn't label me a hypochondriac, demand I find better places to eat, or disown me altogether. Being older (but not necessarily wiser) I say no more often now. I check that inner gauge to see how much panic it induces inside me to agree to something and (most of the time) I listen to it and respond with a proper yes or no. There are still times where I say yes, because at the time it sounded awesome, but when the day comes I feel like latching on tight to the door frame with my hands and feet like a cat does when it doesn't want to go into the bath. The greater the number of people expected to be at an event, the higher my barometer of insane anxietygoes. One on one, people - I do better mano y mano. Street parties, festivals, and parties are rare for this gal anymore. When it happens, it's like seeing a pig in a tutu. Better appreciate that shit and let's go full tilt into it and make some memories. Otherwise, I am sitting at home texting you the day of with the excuse peacocks attacked my car and now I have to fix it 

(FYI - That ACTUALLY happened -  3 months after buying my first brand new, never been used, car 2 male peacocks attacked the car because it was black and they thought their reflections were another competing male. I kid you not).

Weird Thing #5: Some weeks are better than others. Most of the time, you can label me a fully functioning "adult". But there are times I will plan all week to go home on Friday and then come back out on Monday. I call it my hermit weekends. On Friday, I will stop at the store on the way home, stock up like the Apocalypse is coming, and rush home to my pajama's and AppleTV. I am fully aware that's not necessarily the most adult way to handle things but sometimes I get a sensory overload and it's how I recalibrate my energy.

Maybe this helps explain me more. Maybe this helps others know they aren't the only ones who do this stuff or feel this way. Maybe this makes you think I am even weirder (than you did already). All I know is, I am fully aware my anxiety can make me act like such a nincompoop and I am, slowly but surely, becoming ok with it.

My new motto?

Most weeks I am rocking it and just trying to keep up the fantabulousness but when I want to go home on Friday and not come out until Monday - that's ok. The Anxiety Gremlin wins and gets to color all over the place until my rational side can get it back together. 


Enjoying Your Own Company | Beach Photography by Rachel Abrahams

Raise your hand if the idea of going to a restaurant or movie alone sounds like your personal nightmare. 

Until recently, I had no idea just how many people felt this way and won't do things alone and it truly surprised me. Is this because they worry if they were at a restaurant alone, others would look at them and judge?

I call this mentality the "High School Cafeteria" thinking. Remember in high school how you were so convinced, while walking into the cafeteria, all eyes were on you? I know, in the movies that's exactly what happens but in reality, everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they really don't notice you. Ok, that sounds harsh but it's not meant to be. People generally are not paying attention because they are also worried about everyone's eyes being on them and trying to act like they don't care. See the irony? 

Maybe it's because I am an only child but I have absolutely no issues going to the movies alone, eating by myself in a restaurant, or even going shopping. I tell people this and I usually get a very surprised look and they say "You went alone? Why?" Well, why not? I wanted to see a certain movie or eat at a certain place and just because I couldn't find a partner in crime, I was not going to let that stop me from enjoying myself.

Honestly, sometimes I really have a lot of fun just doing things alone. I highly recommend more people try it. 

Now, I know some people reading this are still thinking "No way, that sounds really lonely" and my response to that is - are you not good company? If you think spending an hour, by yourself, with your own thoughts is lonely it's time to reshape your thinking. Let me list some of the benefits of doing things on your own.

1. It strengthens your independence. When you remove the need to always have someone by your side, you grow in your confidence and independence. You learn to trust your decisions because you stop relying on others' opinions and just do it. Whatever you want - you just go with it. No more looking around to confirm your decision based on others' opinions. It's just you, so trust your gut.

2. You find out how awesome you are. Maybe it's just me, but I have this crazy need to make everyone like me. It took a long time for me to realize I judged myself based on how I felt others saw me. Once I decided to hang out with myself - with no one to try to please or make my friend - I stopped behaving like the dancing monkey and really thought about what made ME happy. It was an incredibly eye opening experience that made me a better person. 

3. How do you like your eggs? Remember that scene in Runaway Bride where he points out all of her favorite ways to eat eggs were always a mirrored reflection of how her fiance's liked their eggs? When you try new things on your own, you learn very quickly (without the influence of people around you) what you truly enjoy and what you'd prefer to avoid when you are spending your precious minutes alone. For example, when my husband is out of town I love to eat at my favorite, mainly vegetarian, restaurant. I love the food and I know he would not enjoy it so I go on my own. It's my favorite retreat.

4. Silence becomes truly golden. How often do you find difficulty falling asleep at night because the thoughts buzzing around your brain are distracting you, the silence is deafening, and it's all keeping you awake? That's probably because this is the first time all day (week? month?) you've been alone with your thoughts and now the tidal wave is hitting you in the silence. The more time you spend letting your brain process your thoughts, to do's, and dreams without a million distractions, the more likely at the end of the day your brain will stop trying to make you pay attention to it and actually let you recover. Why? Because you already took the time earlier in the day to listen to yourself.

5. Did you know you are important? Many of us put ourselves last (color me guilty). When you make the conscious decision to spend time alone and enjoy your own company you are also deciding to put yourself first.......and there is nothing wrong with that. I once heard the phrase "whenever you say yes to something, you are also saying no to something else". When you always say yes to others, you are always saying no to yourself. There has to be a compromise because you are also important. 

I don't say this so everyone will go rushing out to be alone and never invite a friend along again - that's not a good idea either. It's just nice spending time doing what you want, without having to answer to others, and being your own LIFE BOSS. Appoint yourself CEO of your time. If you don't, you will get lost in the wants and desires of everyone else without getting to figure out how much you adore bad-ass action flicks, spicy tuna rolls with extra wasabi, and long walks on the beach (for real, not in irony to be made fun of on a dating site).

And that would just be such a shame.