Getting To Know Me

Some People Call Me Foreign Kid | 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 first post in a series I’ll be doing in the hopes of giving you a chance to “see behind the curtain”. Along with these fun facts, I have decided to share some of my favorite photos I have taken so far in this photography adventure.

I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 9 years old living in the Middle East. We lived in Turkey and then Saudi Arabia and by being there I missed the 80’s (as I jokingly say). When I came to the United States, New Kids on the Block and L.A. Gear were all the rage, I had only seen a Nintendo once before, and I had no idea what MTV was (let alone a Bon Jovi or Def Leppard). Immediately upon my arrival in my class the girl I sat next to grabbed me, shoved a Teen Bop magazine photo of New Kids On The Block at me, and pointed at Danny telling me “we all picked our boyfriends and he can be yours”. I just wanted to fit in, despite my weird clothes and moving from a country none of the kids in my class had heard of, so I just nodded my head and said “Uh, sure, ok” and let them sweep me up into their play world of dating boy band celebrities I had never heard of (by the way – I figured out quickly the girls had given me the leftover member of the band, the one they didn’t think was cute. So generous). It helped to have this group of "friends" during this transition where kids would say "You lived in Turkey? Like INSIDE a Turkey? I bet that smelled AWFUL (yuck yuck yuck)". Smart kids, I tell ya. 

I pretty much spent the next 15 years of my life having people reference phrases, movies, and pop culture I had never heard of and then getting the wide eyed look when they would incredulously say “You’ve never seen THE BREAKFAST CLUB?!?!?!?” in a tone only dogs could hear and then they would take me by the hand to educate me on whatever essential U.S. pop culture I had missed out on.

Living overseas for my childhood is something I cherish every single day. I wear it like a badge of honor and embrace how it altered my perception of the world around me. I saw a mixture of cultures so very different than what I now knew as home (Florida) and, as a result, it made me constantly question the WHY of doing things. I push hard at the answer of “we’ve always done it this way” because I have personally experienced how others do things and know there can always be a better system to get stuff accomplished.

It also put me slightly on the fringe of my peers which, instead of hiding it away and trying to make myself blend as much as possible (like most teens), I embraced it fully and actually made it part of the package deal of my friendship. Oh, you want to be friends with me? Be forewarned I can sometimes be a bit of a foreign kid, local news doesn’t interest me but international news does, sometimes I have no idea what movie/phrase/pop culture you are joking about, and I will tell stories of things I experienced as a kid which you will think is SO WEIRD (Oh, it’s NOT normal to see camels riding in the beds of trucks down the street? You don’t sit around a platter using pieces of bread as silverware? There’s more than 2 TV channels here and they are ALL in English???? My mind = blown). You’re good with that? Cool – let’s do this.

I credit this altered perception of the world for influencing my photography as well. I feel like experiencing something so distinctive automatically gave me permission to just push my boundaries and not fear the possible negative feedback saying it’s too much or too different. I’ve SEEN different. I’ve lived in a world completely unlike where I am today – and I loved it. I know I am incredibly lucky. I realize not everyone has this freedom automatically ingrained in them and I wish they did. I feel like it’s for the better when we push back. Push the envelope, live on the fringe, think differently – because absolutely beautiful things come from behaving differently and embracing being the weirdo.

I like to think I am a good example of that.

P.S. It is definitely a small world. In high school I figured out the girl in my math class also went to the same school as I did in Saudi Arabia, at the same time, and I found her in my yearbook. Also, I am currently friends with someone who lives near me here in Florida that ALSO went to the same school in Saudi Arabia, although we were several years apart. In this tiny Florida town, twice I have found people who had similar adventures to mine. 

Am I Too Old For Magic | Walt Disney World Photography by Rachel Abrahams

I absolutely adore reading. I have always been an avid reader and didn't let the "required reading" of school/college even try to beat that out of me but I also have learned when I get sucked into a book everything else in my world disappears. That can be both a good and a bad thing - I am engrossed in other worlds I could never imagine on my own but that also means my real life can get ignored. This isn't so bad if you can do it in healthy doses but healthy doses of reading is not something I am prone to do (so far this year, I've read 16 books. My goal for 2015 was 30.....).

It does mean I sometimes have to say to myself "you can read for 20 minutes AFTER you take care of X, Y, Z adult/boring life requirement" and the bargaining (typically) works. It's just like what my parents would have to do with me as a kid.  BTW - My mom once learned to be super specific in bargaining with me. She once said "No TV in the morning until you are dressed with your shoes on". The next morning she came out to me watching TV, in my pajamas, with my shoes on, and no socks. But I had my shoes on like she said!

I think it's healthy for adults to keep their childlike wonder and imagination. I absolutely admit I am the first to line up to see the movies with fantasy, superheroes, and magic (yup, I have almost every Disney animated movie, the extended edition Lord of the Rings trilogy, all the Marvel Avengers movies, and all of the Harry Potter movies as well and that's just the tip of the nerd-collection-iceberg).

I also love living near the theme parks and have been an avid lifelong Disney fan with annual passes and also recently added Universal Studios to my favorites list. I run inside just as fast as the kids and giggle and scream like I was 10 years old (to the embarrassment of those with me - I know they love me and tolerate my idiocy with some deep sighs and probably a little side eye too).

Books spark the flame of magic and then movies and theme parks take those amazing worlds even further by actualizing them into what you always imagined. I find it all to be perfectly complimentary, honestly.

As I was home sick for a week with a cold, I needed comfort and I reached out immediately to my favorite books and movies which I realized were all intended for young adults and kids. I wondered - is this lame? Am I seriously in denial of trying to be an adult and instead disappearing into these alternate worlds where I can fly, do magic, and even battle evil with superpower skills I could never have in real life?

My answer - a resounding hell to the yes. Why? Because it's awesome. Do I really need to explain myself? Nope. Am I too old for this magic and wonderment? Some might say yes but those are also people who are lame or unwilling to admit it's UBER FUN to be get sucked into these alternate worlds.

I know I am not alone in this.

Now, if you'll excuse me I am going to get back to my book I promised myself I could keep reading when I finished this post.........

Standing On The Edge Of The World | San Diego, California by Rachel Abrahams

I have been incredibly lucky to live near the ocean for most of my life. My entire world has been shaped by the ocean lifestyle of seeing people run across A1A with their surfboards in hand, skipping school to hang at the beach (which was half a mile from my high school), and everyone having their favorite beach to surf/swim/sunbathe at (because depending on what you were doing there was a beach that was better for it).

I recently moved to where I can actually see the ocean from our 2nd floor deck. I can hear the waves at night and smell the salt air when the wind is moving in the right direction. It is home and I am reminded on a daily basis how amazing it is to be here, especially after living many other places throughout my life. This is where I want to be.

Growing up, whenever I visited the beach I would stand at the water's edge with Florida behind me, the Atlantic Ocean ahead of me with Africa in the far far distance, and just stare out thinking about how I was on the edge of the continent and straight across from where I was standing was the other side of the world. It has always fascinated me.

When we visited California, I was super stoked to now be on the other side of the United States and get my toes into the sands connected to the Pacific Ocean. The beach was similar to Florida and yet so different. The preferences of different beaches was the talk of the locals (just like at home). It amazed me how far it was from the sandy beach to the ocean (Florida's is so small). Now here I was standing at the edge of the continent but I was staring at the other side of the world from a completely new direction. It was now California behind me with Asia in the far far distance. 

That may be my favorite thing about the beach. It reminds me I am a small part of this amazing world and yet with my toes touching the water I am physically connected to so much more than the tiny spot I am standing on. It has always fascinated me and I assure you it will never ever get old. 

My Attitude of Gratitude by Rachel Abrahams

AspiringImagesbyRachel-AttitudeofGratitude

Today, I say thank you to you - yes YOU

For supporting me and being an amazing fan of my art. 

2014 hasn't been an easy year for me and, to be honest, there were enough big wham-o life changing things that happened to me which made me walk around and say "I can't wait for 2014 to be over".

Then I talked with a wonderful friend of mine who said "Wait a minute, I know it's been a lot but what about....." and then she proceeded to list all sorts of positives that happened to me this year. I hired a personal trainer, I beat my yearly reading goal (30 books and counting), I moved closer to my parents and the beach, my photography has grown by leaps and bounds.....and her list went on and on. She made me cry because not only was she right but she also had paid attention enough to remember my positives FOR me. After that, I realized it was time to step off my pity party of one (want some cheese with that whine?) and remember the positives still happening in my life.

So today, I say thank you for being in my life, providing me with amazing support, love, positive feedback on my art, and all around fantabulousness. You are friggin' terrific and today I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving (and for those not in the U.S., let's call this Gratitude Day) full of people you love, comfort, and naps......lots of food coma naps.

And may you also have wonderful people in your life to help remind you, when the negatives get you down, of how many positives there really are in your amazing wonder-filled existence on this blue marble called Earth.