Searching for the Perfect Light
Last August as Myesha Evon and I captured these images in East Hampton, an idea that had been floating around in my mind solidified. Since we were shooting outdoors in natural light, we had to surrender to mother nature and her magical timing. During that afternoon’s rotation toward the sun, we were forced to slow down and blessed with a moment to engage with our friends, to enjoy simple and rewarding aspects of human interaction. As we went about our creative process, we chatted and played with the children who were present. I remember one interaction that Myesha shared with my fairy-goddaughter Maya that was focused on getting over Myesha’s fear of water – Maya at her tender age of six, imparted advice from her personal experience which unlocked something within Myesha. And in another instance, Myesha worked with my goddaughter Mika to create some impressive images on her polaroid camera. During this exchange, a sense of patience and gratitude permeated the garden where we lounged. The pure curiosity and kindness offered by these two young girls, Myesha generous sharing of her time and expertise, the patience associated with the teaching and learning process effortlessly flowed while we waited for our perfect light.
In the Spotlight
Shortly before that late-summer weekend, I had been reflecting on my life and the personal conflicts with which I repeatedly grapple. Some of these include: not fully recognizing my self-worth, looking for validation from my professional circle, not feeling like I am producing or achieving enough, also feeling disappointed and taking it personally when I am not hired for prestigious projects. While observing how these negative thought patterns affect me, I considered my meditation practice as well as my quest to reconnect and stay connected with my inner-being. I realized that an important road on life’s journey involves finding your light.
Finding and moving in your light (re)introduces you to the cosmic powered space where you are most confident with yourself, the space where you enjoy freedom from limiting emotions, a space where your pace is relevant to your purpose, a space where self-love if unwavering, a place where self-compassion is constant, a place where solitude feels natural. It is an existence that allows you to expand into the human, the professional, the friend, the lover, and the family member you were destined to be. It is your own personal spotlight where you are always shining and winning.
As we waited for our light that weekend in August, I reached a new path on my journey, one that at first seemed dimly lit because I, for one necessary reason or another, was shielding my eyes from its luminosity. It’s incredible how the universe guides us through personal lessons and revelations. How a thought or a vague intuition can manifest into such an exquisite, divinely poetic confirmative experience. By the time that Myesha and I shot the last image of the weekend, there was no shadow of a doubt that finding our light is a key element in finding personal peace and joy.
Find Your Light
Life is a blessed journey. Your light is a gift from the Spirit/Source/God and appears in this world when you are born. During the span of your time here on earth, you will bask in your light as well as lose the sensation of its brilliance time and time again. The truth is that it never fades. It is a constant, but we as humans are often pulled towards life events that obscure its brightness. This may be because of what the great spiritual leaders call the suffering nature of the human being. Suffering is at the heart of the Buddhist teachings.
In his book “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation,” beloved Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “The Buddha called suffering a Holy Truth because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation. Embrace your suffering, and let it reveal to you the way to peace.”
Whether the cause of your suffering be out of distraction, fear, anxiety, stress, injury, serious illness or the loss of a loved one, if you take the time to acknowledge it without resistance, and instead treat it with compassion through meditation and mindfulness, you may be able to achieve a deep sense of freedom in your being. In the process you will connect with your inner-self for comfort and anchoring, and, in doing so, access the light which will lead you forward.
**Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle also writes about how we can transform our suffering in his book “Transmuting Suffering into Peace.”
Walking in Your Light
You are probably already practicing positive habits that will restore you to your light. Here are the practices and actions that brought me to my current path. Some might be relevant to your journey, others less so. I am happy to share/reemphasize them here.
If you already practice gratitude, keep it up! Or, you’ve heard friends or awakened minds like Oprah Winfrey describe gratitude journals where they list the things they are grateful for: the sun rising in the morning; the fragrance of flowers in their gardens; meeting an elder on the street in their neighborhood and being touched by the warmth and wisdom in their eyes. It’s wondrous how the act of simply showing your appreciation for the people or the events that occur in your life can positively impact your being.
Personally speaking, practicing gratitude has improved my life. Over the past two years, I’ve found it very difficult to fall asleep, because I am unable to slow down or simply turn off my mind. Sometimes I don’t fall asleep until 1:30 am or even later, and let’s not get into the travel-related jetlag. After observing the toll that this unintentional habit was having on my life and productivity, I vowed to remedy the issue. Initially, I practiced deep breathing which helped me to relax but did not always help me to fall asleep. Then I moved on to CBD drops which further relaxed me and worked a little better at bringing me closer to the Zs. However, the medicine that works the majority of the time is listing the things that I appreciated that day. Pretty Birds, some nights, offering gratitude for my blessings elevates me to a pure natural high. I am able to drift off to sleep, relaxed and bathed in positive energy.
No matter the time of day, practicing gratitude is an elixir for the soul and can help you to reconnect with what matters most in your life. Gratitude helps you find your light in that it allows you to focus on what brings you joy and peace, which in turn can direct you in developing the principles that guide you. You can rely on your gratitude practice because it is a true indicator of the things that you appreciate and the spaces where you prefer to inhabit the most.
Living in the Present
Over the holidays, our friend Matia, a breast cancer surgeon, shared that he prefers to operate in the dark with only the medical spotlight focusing on the patient and the affected area. Under these circumstances, all the ambient light and other distractions in the operating room are eliminated and he can be completely present in the moment to tune into his experience and natural intuition. Most of us will never perform life-saving surgery, but we can enhance our experience in this dimension by focusing on the present moment.
I’ve read different books detailing how we as humans have lost our ability to be still, to still our minds, or to be comfortable existing in the present moment. Rather, we cling to past memories or fret about the future. Why do we no longer see the glow of the moment? Why aren’t we able to just be? I will admit that I am terrible at living in the present – heck, I am the queen of nostalgia. Conscientious of this fact, I often challenge myself to remain still even when my surroundings are drab and completely uninspiring and my mind craves an escape. In these situations, I would much rather re-live a recent holiday, or mentally browse my retail wishlist, but deep down I appreciate the peace that can be achieved by reconnecting with my inner being through awareness of the moment. So I forge ahead in this pursuit because of the possibility of reaching a point in my life where no matter the circumstances, my “present” is always luminous, and essentially no different than a palm-lined beach in Jamaica.
Acknowledging and Directing Compassion to Negative Behavior Patterns that Limit You
I am a digital creative; I publish this site, I capture digital images for online content, I am a model for digital campaigns, I author stories for websites, and a majority of my professional business takes place on Instagram. I am an active player and beneficiary of the age of envy. I would love to say that I am not vulnerable to its pressures, but as I mentioned earlier, I do grapple with feelings of unworthiness. Why haven’t I written a book yet, or started a product line? The Podcast? Why wasn’t I considered for a project in the Caribbean, even though I was born there? Or, so and so doesn’t appreciate my work because they never shout me out. Shall I give dignity to these feelings? Yes, they are valid as any similar feeling you may be experiencing. However, do not allow them to limit you or dim your light.
Last year my friend A. Toni Young emphasized that I should read meditation leader and psychotherapist Tara Brach’s book “Radical Acceptance” in response to a self-limiting sentiment I shared. Reaching into her Buddhism practice, Brach teaches us not to resist our fears, anxieties, and traumas, but rather to accept them with compassion so that we can identify the underlying causes and start the process of reversing their limiting hold on our lives. Like Thich Nhat Hanh, she explains that this process helps us to reconnect with our inner being, leading to joy, peace, and freedom.
Brach’s teachings are helpful when you are going through dark periods, and when you are feeling confused, doubtful, or lost. At this point in my journey, the concept of feeling lost, or when parents and family members assign the state to faltering or stumbling young adults, has evolved into the observation that we are lost because we have steered away from our inner being and light. The term “finding oneself” also has a more profound meaning. That light that shines at the end of the tunnel? It belongs to us. It’s there to lead us home.
Removing Yourself From Situations That Do Not Serve You
Not just an Instagram quote, removing yourself from spaces that are depleting your energy is another way of reconnecting with and preserving your light. My mother applied this principle to a situation that I was complaining about before the holidays. I was approaching the issue from all the wrong directions because of underlying feelings of shame and guilt. Then she said with unbiased clarity (2020 vision to be more precise): “Maybe this program just isn’t for you, and there is nothing wrong with that.” With that, everything fell into place.
Please don’t compromise your needs because of complicated societal expectations of adulthood and success. Ending relationships where you are not appreciated leads to more meaningful and qualitative encounters. Quitting a toxic job that stunts your creativity and wreaks havoc on your well being is a power move; quitting is not failing, it’s opening up space for better opportunities. And, avoiding triggering social circles and experiences is the best thing that you can do for your mental health. The Jones, who? Bye!
Get to Know Yourself Better
Recently we featured Diarrha N’Diaye, founder of Ami Cole, as part of our story Who’s Inspiring Us Right Now. She wisely shared the following:
“Spend time alone to really get to know who you are, what you want and, more importantly, what you don’t want. This clarity creates a stillness within. I call it my spiritual bank. When I’m stressed out or feeling doubtful this bank serves as my internal reminder and fuels me to keep going.”
Pretty Birds, as you embark on the pursuit of new milestones, achievements, and adventures in 2020, this new decade, remember this: your light is like a star in the clear night sky, a part of this vast beautiful universe that is held together by faith and love. Let your light guide you. Do not dim it for others, because as sure as this universe has existed for billions of years, your light belongs in its truest form. Shine bright so that the authentic you can be seen and felt, always. The world needs more of YOU.
Look 1: Shirt Dress By Orange Culture, Belt by Celine, Sandals by Jacquemus.
Look 2: Dress by Tongoro Studio, Myesha’s hoops.
Look 3: Dress by Richard Quinn, Earrings by Mateo NY, Necklace from a Market in Dakar, Senegal, Sandals by Chanel.