Advice

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. 

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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.

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.........

Working Smarter - Not Harder - To Be Creative by Rachel Abrahams

It's been awhile! I've missed all you amazing people and WELCOME to all the new people who signed up during my canvas wrap giveaway. Lots of new faces around here.So, where have I been? After Christmas I decided I was doing things the hard way when it came to my photography (and life in general). It was making me not want to sit down and do one of my favorite parts - edit photos - and I ended up with photos just sitting on my memory card, in my camera, forgotten.

I challenged myself to try something new and STREAMLINE my process. It meant signing up for tutorials and classes, taking time to learn new things, and unlearn my old habits. It wasn't easy because it meant I had to sloooowwww waaaayyyy down (while thinking in my whiny voice "noooo, I don't wannnnaaa, I wanna do the longer way that is ingrained in meeeeee") and keep looking up my notes and tutorials on how to achieve what I was imagining.

That is not an easy thing to do and I know many of us face that same challenge. We create habits and, even though we know there could be a better way, we keep going with those habits because steering the ship in a new direction can be so darn hard.

In the end, it was absolutely worth it. You know that saying "Work smarter, not harder"? That's my goal is this year. I also came up with a new tagline:

Photographer - Traveler - Dreamer

I feel between working smarter and following my new tagline I am more in line with what's a great creative process for me. I've also been taking care of a work-life balance by working out with a trainer, taking this free 30 Day Push Challenge to be more organized (http://www.30daypush.com/), and learning how to just chillax about all that small stuff so I won't feel overwhelmed.

And you know what I've learned? If it's not enjoyable - it's not worth it.

Confession: I never learned the proper way to type and now I type using 2 fingers on my left hand and 3 on my right. I can see your brain twisting trying to imagine what that looks like. It's not quite monkey at a keyboard but it's definitely close. I type super fast this way but get crazy looks when people watch me. I know that typing with all 10 fingers would make my life easier but the idea of trying to unlearn years of wacky typing makes me wanna sweat.

Maybe next year?

**Note: The 30 Day Push Challenge is not an ad or affiliate link. Just truly something I've been enjoying and wanted to share.

P.S. Are you on Snapchat?

I'm having fun sharing the random daily things of my life (including videos of my visits to the beach!) and interacting with fellow SnapChatters! Just open up your Snapchat, snap the ghost to the left, and it will automatically follow.

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