nyc photography

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

or

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?

 

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. 

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The View From Above | NYC Photography by Rachel Abrahams

How often do you find yourself participating in this age old conversation filler:

Person 1: Oh my, is it May already? Wow - where has this year gone?

Person 2: I know, right? It seems like it was just January and now the year is already almost half over.

Person 1: Blah, blah blah, busy, so busy, everything in life is busy. . . .

Person 2: Blah, blah, blergh, I too am busy, I think I am even more busy than you, blergh busy. Next think you know it will be next year!

See what I am getting at? I admit, every time this conversation (and the topic of weather - but that's for another day) comes up I want to hide inside my invisible turtle shell so no one can see me, the introvert in me crying and having a tantrum over this inanely boring small talk. Honestly - why do we do this?

I know most people do it because it helps fill the air and avoid being uncomfortable. The problem though is many people actually feel like this all the time in their life because they are spending 90% of their time surviving to the next moment and 10% (MAYBE - but it's generous) of their time actually planning / growing / improving life.

What happened? I call it getting lost in the weeds. It's when the details have overwhelmed you and taken control and minutes become days, which become months and yes, the next thing you know a year has passed and you cannot figure out where it went.

Ya, no thanks.

It's good to set time aside and take assessment of things. You have to get above it and look at the big picture - you know, that thing you are calling your life - and see where it's going and if that's what you want. When you put yourself in charge and get above the crazy minutiae you get a much better overall view of things. Imagine yourself in New York City, walking along the street, and the types of people and moments you experience. What if you spent your entire life always on the ground level of NYC - never once going to any of the higher floors to have a look-see-around.

Then you get a chance to fly in a helicopter above New York City for the first time and you see how MANY buildings there really are, that it's surrounded by water, and the beautiful horizon that can be hidden by the huge buildings seems to be never ending........there's so much new and amazing things to see up there! A whole new perspective.

This past Sunday was the 16 year anniversary of when the sunshine of my world, superhero, defender of fun, and extrovertedly amazing friend Sara died in a terrible car accident. She was 19 years old and I was 2 weeks away from graduating high school when it happened. Until that point, life seemed never ending and we had all the time in the world to do everything we had ever wanted and planned --- and then it all ended. My world exploded into a million reflective glass pieces and now the task was gluing all those pieces back together, one by one. It took about ten years for me to feel nearly "human" again (closure never truly happens, by the way, there's always shredded pieces and chunks missing from you after things like this). Ten years of surviving.....moments becoming weeks, leading to months.....and then years.

Every time I experience a huge life event, I always remember Sara isn't ever going to have this chance. As a result, I fight to capture and remember every nuance for myself - and for her. I am very precious with my plans. I sit down, I assess, and I redirect my course if I have to. I am always working hard to improve and my goals all focus towards 80% personal growth and 20% life maintenance.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE spontaneity and unexpected awesomeness (that was Sara's forte). I also know what it's like to disappear into the vortex of "busy" and "surviving" and find you've lost yourself in the process.

So, next time someone wants to chat inanely about the fact time seems to be flying by......don't let yourself get sucked in! Is it really flying by? Then do something! Catch onto it - focus - and make sure you aren't missing out on maximizing what you've been given and even work to improve it.

Some people don't get that chance.

That Time I Broke My Tailbone In Central Park | NYC Photography by Rachel Abrahams

AspiringImagesbyRachel-NYC-Manhattan-DownTheStreet-with-EmpireStateBuilding-

Full disclosure: You have my full permission to laugh. I would (and do!) laugh at this story.

Approximately 3 months ago, I went on an amazing trip to New York City, NY and Paris, France. My husband and I visited Paris once before but it was for only one day and the majority of our time was spent on a bus traveling to/from the city. For this visit, we wanted to do everything on our wish list, and then some.

We started off in New York City for a couple days because despite having gone multiple times, there were still many things we had not seen or done. It was amazing. We visited the Statue of Liberty, the top of the Rockefeller Center building at sunset (so crowded!), and multiple locations that were all memorable. We topped off our last day in NYC with a bike ride through Central Park and this is where things went downhill for me.

After renting the bikes and getting them “fitted” to our height, we circled most of Central Park and stopped at specific locations. I am so short I had to make a choice, either have my seat 1) low enough so my feet could touch the ground when stopped but my knees in my chest while pedaling or 2) too high off the ground but more comfortable while pedaling. I went with the 2nd choice. It was a fantastic way to see Central Park because it is so large and we were lucky, on that day, there was no traffic within the park.  As we pedaled up a small hill to our last stop, to visit Strawberry Fields (John Lennon) memorial, everyone was ahead of me and I stood up on my pedals to get some extra push going and that’s when it all fell apart.

My flip flop slipped off the pedal, I fell downward, my tailbone slammed the seat edge, and I was stuck dangling there mid-air because my feet couldn't touch the ground. I was in so much pain and was trying to stay conscious and not vomit over the side, all while angling myself and the bike downward so I could touch the ground. No one else saw it happen and when they turned to see where I was, rather than admit I was hurt I lost my mind like a crazy person.

My husband asked me if I was OK and I proceeded to ramble / yell / froth at the mouth about how I hated riding bikes, where could I return the bike, when would this be over, this was the worst idea known to mankind, and told him I was taking the bike back and didn't care about stupid Central Park. Mind you, this was filled with some super salty language. Quite a few f-bombs and other creative unsavory words that would make my grandmother blush scarlet. I was like a pirate after a bottle of rum who had just stubbed his toe and forgotten to take his meds that day.

As I went on my crazy lady rant, my husband looked at me with such confusion. He’s known I've always wanted to see the Strawberry Fields memorial, especially since I had the poster of the memorial hanging in my room starting at 15 years old.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind (I had) and said “What is wrong with you? Just get off the bike and walk up the hill. It’s RIGHT THERE” as he pointed to a distance of less than 50 feet away.

Still not admitting I was hurt, I heaved my leg off the bike so I could walk it up the hill. Once I got to the top and started turning a normal shade of coloring from purple to semi-red, I then explained to my husband what happened and finished with “I think I broke my tailbone”. All he could do was shake his head because, if you know me well, this isn't surprising news. I am always hurting myself.

By the way, our flight to Paris was scheduled to leave in several hours.

We visited the memorial and I walked the bike back to return it (the location was literally at the bottom of the hill we were on). As we got closer to the flight departure time, I knew and feared the pain was going to be tremendous on the flight and I wasn't wrong. I couldn't sit, stood instead, had the flight attendants ask me multiple times if everything was OK (Yes, everything is fine. No, I’m not planning on doing something terrible). It was 8 very very long hours.

The good news is, I toughed it out (the worst was trying to stand up from sitting and sitting in the taxi cabs), slept on my stomach, took tons of pictures, visited every single thing I had on my list, and was teased about my “broken butt” constantly. I had to laugh because yes, this is EXACTLY a story I could add to my “Rachel’s List of Stories”. I've been told I could write a book – like the time this guy asked me for directions while he was in his car and it took me several (far too long) seconds to realize he was stark naked behind the wheel. To be honest, I was distracted by how sweaty and red he was. I’ll save that story for another day though…..

P.S. It’s 3 months later and it STILL HURTS. It’s definitely improved but I still can’t sit too long, sit in cushy seats (like the couch or movie theater), sit comfortably in a car, or exercise extensively. I've read it takes forever to heal. They weren't wrong.

P.P.S. (or is it P.S.S.?) I will be posting more Paris photos in my next several posts. Sorry for the tease photo above :-)