mind-full-ness

In 2013, I undertook a project where I tried to take one photo per day to share with my family and friends through Instagram and Facebook. While I did not quite achieve doing it every day (I missed probably 20 days – mostly at the start when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!), I achieved much more than I ever thought I would. It started out as a simple way to keep in touch in my year of adventure, but it became a task in mind-full-ness. Yes, I write it like that: I know the convention is “mindfulness” but I find that my mind has become very aware and very full of the world around me. Every day I see more things – sometimes everyday things, sometimes special things – and I appreciate more in my life. Sometimes it’s the simple things such as a beautiful flower; other times it is an experience that is overwhelmingly beautiful or sad or loving or engaging. But the point is that I see more than I ever have before. I take less for granted and when I think I can’t find a photo for a day, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for and that perhaps I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be during the day. This means that I sometimes needed to hunt for a photo that could represent my day. Other times, I have so many photos that I find it incredibly difficult to choose just one – but I only choose one.

Later in 2013, I found a wonderful article written by Nic MacBean titled Snap happy: bestselling author Matthew Johnstone finds peace through photography. This article helped me put my project into clearer words and to realise what I was trying to do with it. It also gave me another book to find and read! (Note: I love books – I can’t get enough of them – more about my year in reading in a post to come.) However, being able to articulate why I am taking photos and why I want to do it every day has been enormously beneficial in understanding my motivations and intentions for myself – something deeper than just sharing images from my year of adventure – something more basic in understanding myself and my life.

Here are some of the highlights from my year of adventure, mind-full-ness, and understanding.

a beautiful flower

beauty

a sad experience

a sad experience

loving experience

a loving experience

an engaging experience

an engaging experience

a beautiful experience

a beautiful experience

…these are just a few of my favourites – you can see more on my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/tabras {shameless plug – I know!}. I intend to continue to share one photo per day throughout 2014 as well, even though my “year of adventure” is over and I’m “back to reality”, as such. Who says we can’t play with reality and enjoy what we do? 😉

The dogs of Kathmandu

Recently, when I was working in Kathmandu, I couldn’t help but notice all the street dogs. They are everywhere and they seem to wander the streets at will, but also have defined territories. They are very resilient – you can see their battle scars clearly. They are also calm and enjoying a relatively lazy life. They also look amazingly similar as you can see below. (Yes, they are all different dogs on different days.) It makes me wonder about their life and how they survive.

One particular dog caught my attention – the dog in the middle of the image. He lived near the taxi rank, so I saw him every day for a little over three weeks. Every time I saw him, he looked content and poised. He never looked hungry or sad, but rather he appeared to be the king of his territory. He was constantly surveying his territory and making sure he ruled it all. Other dogs would stay away and avoid any contact. He wouldn’t budge for any human or other animal, either; they had to walk around him. A very proud dog in the middle of life in a busy area in Kathmandu. He constantly reminded me of Nepali people, too, with his approach to life: proud, calm, resilient.

The dogs of Kathmandu

Kathmandu Dog Pack {True} Story

Warning: Depicts a graphic scene – you may not want to read this.

The first time I went to Nepal, I arrived late at night and had the hotel transport pick me up from the airport. I was exhausted – I had just traveled for more than 36 hours to get here. But I was excited to be in a new city to see new things. It was just after Tihar and many buildings still had lights all over them – it was a beautiful sight. We were going around a corner when a pack of dogs caught my eye – it looked like they had cornered some prey and were going to have dinner. I looked closer to see what they had found; they had found another weaker dog. The pack was about 8 or 9 dogs strong; the dog being attacked was weak and helpless. It was horrid: the pack dogs were taking it in turns to bite and tear apart the other dog. I could hear the other dog whimpering and crying. It was a terrible scene and one that I didn’t want to see. Thankfully, after about one minute of being so close to this situation, the transport moved on. I don’t know what happened, but I sure can imagine it.

Now I understand the saying “it’s a dog eat dog world”. Literally.

Romania.

Image

Romania. Go, see, do. Stunning.

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Locals in Rasnov.

Locals in Rasnov.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

St Michael's Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

St Michael’s Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard cemetery in Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard Cemetery, Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca.

Sneaky new friend in Cluj-NapocaSneaky new friend in Cluj-Napoca.

I visited Romania earlier this year to meet fellow blogger Estrella Azul. Her hospitality meant the world to me – she was welcoming and she shared her life, her culture, her country, and her insights. We had a wonderful week exploring Cluj-Napoca, Turda Salt Mines, Brasov, Rasnov, Bran….. As well as enjoying Romanian-Hungarian food, culture, and fun! Romania is a beautiful country and has a long history. It is probably best known for vampires, Transylvania, and Dracula, but there is so much more to see and do. Maybe one day I’ll get to write about my trip in more detail, but for now, you’ve seen some photos of what is on offer and here are some blogs about traveling in Romania. Do check them out – Romania really is worth going, seeing, doing!

…and, of course, the classic travel sites like Romania Tourism, Lonely Planet, Wikitravel (surprisingly good!), and TripAdvisor.

(not atypical) conversation with myself

Swan in Ireland 2003Me 1: So, how do you feel today?
Me 2: I don’t know – I had a good day and yet a feel a bit down because it’s not quite going as planned. I don’t know why – I want to let it flow but I also want to push it.
Me 1: Just let it flow – they are the ones who will lose out if they say no. You know better than to push it. Look at what happened on Friday! And now how is that affecting what happened today?
Me 2: I know, I know. I know better; I really do. You know I just to get it all organized! But I know I need some patience.
Me 1: So, did you notice the sky today? And how the clouds were playing with each other?
Me 2: I did – actually, I wanted to lay down on the grass outside and just watch them float by. But, as you know, we were busy, and now it’s night and all we can see are the millions of stars.
Me 1: That’s right! You need to go outside and look at the stars and remember how amazing this planet is and how amazing it is that we are alive.
Me 2: Yeah, I should. But my eyes are tired tonight. They are sore and I think it’s because I used a different cream on them.
Me 1: I know – and you know better. This has happened before but you didn’t take notice. Now you can’t finish the work that you need to do. Look at yourself – you’re squinting at the screen as you write this!
Me 2: Argh! How do you know me so well? How can you see what I’m doing and know what I shouldn’t be doing?
Me 1: Because we are the same. You know this. We are just two voices in the same mind having a conversation. We are like two sides of the same coin, you and me.
Me 2: I know, but sometimes I feel like I’m the poor cousin to you – you know the “better” ways and the “better” ideas and all that. I’m the complaining one; the silly one; the selfish, self-centred one. It’s awkward sometimes…
Me 1: We are the same; we have one heart, one mind, one body, one soul. We are just different views of the one being.
Me 2: But it’s hard to accept – it feels like we are different people at times. Kind of schizophrenic or something. Maybe we need to stop playing this game of “same same but different” and just join forces so we can rock this world.
Me 1: I agree! Joining forces would be the best – then we will be in sync more and not feel so torn. 🙂

*insert loving hug here*

feeding the fire

Image

Donghaksa Temple, Daejeon, South Korea

It was a wintry day; the sky was full of clouds filled with snow just waiting to float down to earth. We walked along the path leading up to the ancient Buddhist temple. You took my hand in yours and shared your warmth, and your heart. As cold as it was around us, between us there was a fire – an eternal fire. Years before, we took a little spark and have been feeding it with love, trust, and experience. Our little spark has grown into a roaring fire and we continue to feed it, not wanting it to die out. Every day we feed more love and trust into our fire, and our experiences – both shared and independent – also give it more fuel to feed from. Our passion ignites us both, even on our tired and “bad” days. We could have melted all the snow around us and started a bushfire on this day, but we chose not to: it was too beautiful so we enjoyed the moments and treasure our memories.