Join Me for Just a Flat Out, Happy Hour, 1-2pm, Any Day of the Week

Join Me for Just a Flat Out, Happy Hour, 1-2pm, Any Day of the Week

Photograph of Two Happy Girls, by Anjani Millet. Varanasi, India

Two Happy Girls, Varanasi, India. © Copyright 2011 Anjani Millet

I invite you, dear reader, to join me tomorrow, or any day at all, to purposefully create and experience your own (or someone else’s happiness) from 1-2pm your time.  It may take all morning to prepare your day so that at 1 you are in your ‘happy place’; or perhaps you’ll need to make sure someone you love can be on the phone with you at the appointed H-Hour.
Let’s check in tomorrow night here to see how it went!

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Red Polka Dots and Pantaloons Made Me Charming

Red Polka Dots and Pantaloons Made Me Charming

Today I'm Charming in my Red Dots and Pantaloon!

Red Dots and Pantaloons, I’m charming! ©Copyright 2014 Anjani Millet

Long ago, I set 2 personal goals: I wanted to be charming, and always smell lovely. Sadly, me and perfume don’t get along, but today I feel quite dapper and maybe even a little charming in a little red polka dot dress and, that’s right, white pantaloons. Who couldn’t feel adorable in pantaloons, seriously? #HowToFeelAdorable #vintage #Clothing #selfie #Pantaloons #PolkaDots

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My Heart Sallies Forth in Afternoon Light

My Heart Sallies Forth in Afternoon Light

Twigs in a Teepee, Seattle Park

My Heart Sallies Forth in Afternoon Light. ©2014 Anjani Millet

Contrary to popular myth, Seattle is stunning in the summer. Green, lush grass, amber sunsets, and funny little sculptures in public places make this a magical place to live or visit. I love my city so much.
from Instagram: http://ift.tt/1AsnBM0

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Silvery Peace Rising

Silvery Peace Rising

20140709-013353-5633640.jpg

At last arrives my silvery peace, that elusive twinkle I barely remember. This, told to me by my spinning brain and quiet calendar, is the first moment of real, genuine, and deep peace I have had for over 10 weeks, as we have begun our journey of caring for my mother in her affliction with Alzheimer’s.  These are the flowers which adorned her father’s grave just last week, only a few short days ago.

I say, when peace taps lightly upon this door, yes, I say yes, Friend, please come inside. Make yourself at home (every day for the rest of our lives. )

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Butter is Goodness-Colored

Butter is Goodness-Colored

My Prayer Flags, Bhutan

My Prayer Flags, Bhutan. ©Copyright 2014 Anjani Millet

Butter is Goodness-Colored

a yellow that makes the rotating earth blink and wonder,
How did that get there? Did I put that daffodil right there?

Because if I did, I love my love,
I love my idea, how brilliant, to complement my blue skies and how brilliant
that daffodils and grass don’t clash,
that is not their Way –
not the Way of checks and circles, or three cellos off-key, or
failing marriages.

Yellow is my reminder,
she says to her own round self,
of blackest night, when yellow hides in its mother’s shadowy, velvet night-skirt,
which reminds me of embers cloaked in flames,
which reminds me of trees,
which reminds me of wind,
which reminds me of mountains,
which reminds me of
buttery yellow silence.

Copyright 2011 Anjani Millet. All Rights Reserved

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Glimpsing Light Through Seashells

Glimpsing Light Through Seashells

Seashell partially submerged in the tide

Seashell Backlit By Sunset. ©2014 Anjani Millet

This is what I come home to these days….

I caught this out of the corner of my eye – I’d never seen a shell penetrated by light. The little ripples where it was resting in the sand were just a little magical too.

I wanted to share this moment I found and photographed on the beach at my house, because when we talk about fine art, I remembered this: the finest art is sometimes happening right under our noses, in nature, every single day. The amazing backlight of sunset painted on the back of this shell – shining right through it – stopped me in my tracks. Beautiful nature of our extraordinary world gives to us the opportunity to see the true mastery of light if we only look.

I am back at my little sea cottage and arrived right at sunset to a beautiful orange and pink sky, with the ocean slipping away in the low tide just in front of my door. Now a storm is rolling in, and while I was tucked in with the dog, doing a little work, I heard just outside – what was that?? – an owl on my roof, just above me. Over and over, hoot-hoothoothoot-hooot..

Owl. Ocean. Huge, open expansive sky. Happiness.

What makes you go “ahhh”?
©Copyright 2014 Anjani Millet Photography

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Is “Follow Your Passion!” Just Another Rule?

My dear friend told me an astonishing thing: he is passionate about nothing. He enjoys life, is happy and busy, but passion?  No, he said.  Then he told me a second surprising thing:
“I need to find out why.”
To me, this sounded as if he is feeling there is something wrong with him, as he is not internally experiencing what is externally called “passion.”  Living a life with passion in the U.S. is de rigueur. Anyone living without a passion needs to find one right away. Go to classes. Talk to a therapist. Find out what is wrong with you.  We undergo a tremendous amount of pressure to have, and live, in a state of passion.
But is that really healthy?  Is it even a natural state?  Is my friend, for instance, broken or impaired if he does not have a driving passion, or do he just lack a true understanding of his ‘natural state’?   What if his natural state does not include passion at all – is that like having a misappointed soul?
What if he is happy but not wildly passionate, or driven?  Is that ok?  Is that enough?
And what about purpose?  Is life worth living without purpose?  Is a life worth living if it is a happy, content life, but with no particular purpose?  In both of these cases the answer could be yes, or no.  The reasons for a lack of passion or purpose could be fear or lack of resources.  But even this implies lack.
My sweet dog Henry is sleeping next to me as I write. He was engineered, as a pug, for companionship.  He’s lucky – there’s paperwork on his purpose, which seems to be to hang out with me all day or anyone whose lap he can conquer for napping. What if he has no purpose?  Is his little pug life less worthy, less living, than the life he was given?  And what of children?  Are they only worthy of just being happy but only until they are, say, 16, at which point they need to start thinking about purpose and passion?
I wonder if passion and purpose were invented during the industrial revolution to get people to work more, or, during the 60’s, as a result of working too much. I might have to research this.
Is a life truly lacking if the bearer simply is? 
 
I don’t have the answer to this for myself.  How about you?  What do you think?  Do you have purpose and/or passion?  Do they go together?  How does your view of yourself turn based on these components?
If you aren’t passionate or purposeful, is that ok with you?  How do you feel about yourself in this regard?  Are you trying to change it?
If you are, what do you feel about that part of you?  What if it went away?  What if your passion evaporated tomorrow – who would you be then?
Love to hear from you.

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Alone at the Himalayan Buddhist Monastery

 

The kind lama loaned me his cottage high in the Himalayas, a three hour hike from Dochula Pass, in Bhutan. Below are the photos from that blissful (and really, really cold) stay I had alone in the mountains at the monastery over which he presided. Some shots take place in his cottage, including self-portraits.  The shots in blue are the treacherous walk to the ‘bathroom’.

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What is Your Coolest Possible Future?

Planning is a terrific challenge for me.  With a mind that speeds and veers, it’s not uncommon to drop into mental potholes as they slip onto my visual runway when faced with options.

Picturing such a myriad of possible outcomes can be daunting for me.  Today in my mental planning session, I eased onto a quiet country road in my thoughts, and wondered, what is my coolest possible future?   This was easy!

I pictured more coolness: what fun, cool steps do I need to take to get to the coolest possible future available this week, this month, next year?  THIS I can see!

For four years, I’ve wanted to photograph the nuns of Bhutan.  At last today I sent off that letter to initiate that project.

What is your coolest possible future?  What is the soonest cool date you can get there, and what one cool step can you take today to get there, no matter how small that step or distant the goal?  Can you clearly picture that sweet future and those fun steps?

I’d love to hear what that looks like for you!

-Anjani

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(Gently) Opening Our Hidden Rooms

(Gently) Opening Our Hidden Rooms

Putting things we’ll be sure to find them is the magic formula for ensuring we’ll never, ever see them again.  It’s the fault of the earth’s gravitational field, I’m sure of it, because those things get sucked into some far away universe, or under the couch, or in some weird terrifying blend of the two.

But we do it with our thoughts, hopes, and dreams too, as well as the beliefs we want to run from; for instance, we squirrel away our fears that we are failing ourselves, or wasting our time on this job/relationship/mortgage/book.  It’s too hard to look at, the possible badness or wrongness or hopelessness.  This is hiding the truth of ourselves from ourselves in order to avoid sensations of shame, guilt, hopelessness and sorrow. There’s one more useful reason though: avoidance of the truth of why we do things allows us to simply do what we really intend to do anyway without directly confronting head-on why we feel we shouldn’t.

This sort of self-deception is how most of us put on so much weight over time, avoid unpleasant phone calls, put off paying bills – but worse yet, it’s also how we put our dreams on ice. This is where we avoid our own avoidance but also, so much worse, we avoid our own successes.

This is not surprising, this avoidance. Aside from a basic sense of self-criticism lurking barely beneath the skin for most people, honesty has come to have a brutal connotation in the last 30 years, especially when it comes to the relationship with ourselves.  Thanks to the self-help movement of the 70’s and up to today, self-disclosure has taken on a sense of beating oneself into a bloody, honest pulp.  “Ego” came to be seen as a bad word, and the idea that we should be more forthright with ourselves did, sometimes, involve painful disclosure to a highly critical listener.  Baked in here is so often a real lack of compassion for the reasons we hide things from ourselves, and what to do about it. I’d suggest we often don’t understand why we do things because we wait to understand them before we’ll allow compassion – but perhaps assuming a better stance might be compassion first, knowledge second.

Besides, if it’s true that we grew up on the African Savanna, hiding from things is in our DNA.  Perhaps we need it.  Perhaps if we don’t have enough stealth in order to survive, we just make up danger and we ourselves become both the lion in the tall grass and the gazelle innocently drinking.

I recall attending a required “growth” seminar for work once in which a woman was dissolved into tears in front of 600 attendees as she was “confronted” with her own sense of failure by a teacher who did not know her and did not love her.  He certainly was not going to be around to pick up the pieces when this thing was over with and she hated herself more than when she woke up that morning, her secrets and fears now smeared into the invisible social marketplace with a brutal public flogging.  I do not think this sort of pain and self-disclosure make for happy bedfellows, not long term. In other words, it’s not a sustainable sort of honesty – nor a sustainable happiness.

In the spirit of a gentle and encouraging movement toward happiness, it’s worth considering that a more frank discussion with ourselves about our little avoidances could actually be helpful.

Consider writing down everything you are lying to yourself about.  Every little deception.  The avoidances.  The things you’d rather not know. Put this somewhere that no one else will see it, and promise yourself you will be so soft and gentle and just “talk it over” with yourself, like you might with a kind friend.

Try having a moment’s meditation with yourself; imagine yourself seated in a beautiful meadow, full of flowers.  Invite yourself to drop in; picture yourself strolling into the field, happy and content, and sit down across from yourself.  Feel yourself there to be a great friend to yourself; you can be if you aren’t already.  Explain to your newly arrived self that you would like to understand a few things, no pressure, and ask yourself to assist you to understand what matters you may be keeping from yourself, or avoiding; things you are a little afraid to be totally honest with yourself about. At this juncture it’s not a bad idea to promise that this conversation is “confidential” between you and you, although at a later date you might find there are things you need to discuss with others, although maybe not – remember, this exercise is not to encourage more running from what’s true.

Talk it over, ask for clarification without justification, and chat about whether it’s possible that anything of things could see the light of day – within yourself.  When you’re done, make that list of everything you are deceiving yourself about.  Everything, small and large; every major and minor infraction toward yourself or others. This can include the good stuff!  It’s not always easy to be honest about the things we’re good at or have done well.

When you have your list written down, do nothing with it – not yet. Thank yourself for your bravery and candor, put the paper in a very safe place, or burn it. Know that you understand yourself more now, and this can never be a bad thing.  Discuss this with no one unless you have an agreement with yourself to do so.

Try this again once a month for 3 months and see what you feel in your life now that your self-relationship is building more honest trust – always a good thing.

Softly, softly, as they say in Australia.  It’s the only way to climb a thorny mountain.

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