Weird or Unique?

Individuality can be a beautiful. Unfortunately, it is not always embraced in society though.

As children, being unique can cause problems. We quickly learn to fit into groups, clicks and norms to avoid standing out or being “weird.” We learn how to behave and perform in “normal” ways. To some extent, this learning is a good thing of course. We learn how to function in society with morals, order and discipline. We learn to share, contribute and work.

The problem comes in though if some of these lessons hold us back. Maybe our culture or norms say boys cannot be dancers. Girls cannot be scientists. Artists with blue hair must clearly be on drugs. People that are too nice are fake. It is those teachings or beliefs that could shape our perceptions on others and what is “acceptable” for us to do.

Some people may want to do something, but hold back due to fear. They think it may be weird, odd or silly. They dampen their excitement or actions so that others will not look upon them harshly or awkwardly. This is when the problem arrives.

This is when society is missing out. For when a person holds back from their passion, they limit their potential. They do not reach the inner most parts of their soul and their purpose in life. They are merely a shell existing in the world.

I lived as a shell for years. Don’t get me wrong, I was a productive member of society, but I was not passionate. I was not the ultimate me. I completed my degree. I worked a full time job. I had kids. I was in debt on all the great American things: home, car, and credit cards. I had the “perfect” life when viewed by others. But, I was miserable.

I married young and my high school sweet heart and I just grew apart. We wanted different things in life, but we stayed together. We stayed because of the commitment of marriage-you should not divorce. We stayed together out of spite-people never thought we’d make it anyway. We stayed out of respect for that youthful person we both fell in love with-this is who we chose and needed to stick with it. We stayed because it was all we knew-it was a scary thought to start a new relationship. It only made us both unhappy though. We were not a team but we were not embracing our own individuality either. It was just simple, unhappy existence.

With time and wisdom, we both realized it was time to move on. We both realized we needed to find ourselves again, or who we should have been all along.

After divorcing, I have traveled a path of self-discovery. I have stopped caring what society says I should do. I have stopped being afraid of rejection. I have stopped wondering what if. If I want to try it, I do. If I want to see it, I go. If I want to taste it, I eat. I am not saying that I am out of control and wild and running amuck naked through the streets. No, that is not on my wish list of desires at the moment. Maybe later though.

What I am doing though is living, and doing it with passion. No longer do I worry that people will say I am too over the top, too excited, too silly. What do I care if they think that? I don’t. The funny thing is that my closest and dearest loved ones are happy for me. They see me evolving and taking risks. They see me becoming who they always thought I was anyway. The only difference now, is that I am seeing it now too. I am learning my uniqueness is my strength. My individuality, my passion. My spirit, my power. The more I embrace what is truly me, the happier I become.

James F. Cooper summed up the importance of individuality quite well.  “All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.

I had mediocrity. Been there. Done that. Now, I want greatness. However, my “greatness” is not fame nor fortune. No. Not at all. My greatness is fairly simple and defines me.

These days, my greatness is defined as just experiencing joy in my life, and becoming more and more who I am supposed to be. I always dreamt of having a horse, so now I have one. My horse is not an elegant jumping thoroughbred and I am not a gifted rider with designer equestrian clothes. But, we trod through the woods in utter appreciation of God’s world before us. (I know this about my mare since she seems quite happy to eat the different types of grass as we walk along.) Since I was a kid, I wanted to write…and now I finally do. Sure yeah, it is just on this blog so far, but you know what, that is perfect for me. I am writing from my soul and freeing my thoughts. That is more than I have done in years and I will enjoy it. A few years ago, I had my dream job in photography, but due to financial obligations (and the collapse of the market a few years back), I had to change to something a little more stable-government technical editing. It may not be my perfect job, but it is certainly helping my writing skills. And, I have started a photography blog and do random shoots here and there to fulfill my photography need. All the things I wanted to do (paddle board yoga, painting, kayaking, etc.) but never made time to do before or was too scared to try, I am now doing-even when I have to do them alone.

Overall, there are just so many things that are wonderful in my life. I am not bragging though because to some, they are just boring average accomplishments. I am not discovering a cure for cancer. I am not winning any awards. However, for me, I could not ask for more.

Like this cute, goofy bug, I am happy to sit in my own space and be happy. While on a military base recently, I was running along some barely traveled range roads. There, I found this simple side-of-the-road day lily. I’d bet that it is probably not noticed among the weeds by many, but I stopped. And when I did, I couldn’t help but see this wonderful little bug. I was drawn to his big goofy eyes (or so they looked to be when shooting with my macro app on my iPhone). There he sat, as happy as a bug could look. He let me take some pictures and I went on my way.

This seemingly insignificant moment made me think. This bug didn’t need much. He didn’t need an elaborate garden. He seemed just as content here as anywhere else. He was doing his thing and from all I could see, doing it his way. And that is exactly how I want to be. Wherever I am at in life, I want to be happy. And to do that, I must be the true me regardless of what others think. So for now, I will embrace my individuality of being a silly, passionate person who can take 20 photos of a bug on a flower…and then write about it.


For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge.

Blind Date Beach

It was 2 a.m. and I was stumbling into a romantic island inn with a man I had just met four days ago. We had just spent a little over four hours driving to the coast, and now we were dead tired. Between the night driving and lively conversation, we were past exhaustion. Our reservation was not until later that afternoon, but we could not wait to set out on our adventure. It wasn’t every day that you went on a blind date, made an instant connection and then ran off to the beach just days later! It was a seize-the-moment opportunity so we left as soon as we could. However, as we stood in the barely lit quiet reception area of the inn, we prayed for miracle room to be ready before dawn. Funny thing is, we got that miracle, but it may have qualified as trespassing…

We stood at the desk with not a person in sight. We called the number at the desk with no answer. So in our tired state, we walked around in hopes that we would find some employee. Instead, we came upon our miracle. Right behind the reception desk area was a room. Door wide open. Bed made. Lamp on. Not a bag or personal affect anywhere. Our weary bodies stood there looking into the empty inn room like it was a desert mirage. It was an answer to our prayers for rest, and there it was ready and welcoming us. We looked around and then at each other. “Why not?” my date whispered to me. I looked over at the room name, Total Escape, and laughed. God sure did have a sense of humor. I just wasn’t sure he wanted us to “steal” this room at the inn. But here it was—exactly what we prayer for—right before us. So we grabbed hands, walked into the empty room, latched the door quietly, laid down on top of the blankets and curled up into each other’s arms to rest in our “stolen” miracle room.

After a few hours of sleep, we merely got up and left the room looking as untouched as it was when we found it. No one noticed us and we went out to start the rest of our spontaneous vacation—which included no more trespassing.

What the rest of the weekend did included though was simple perfection. Each morning we would wake up before dawn to watch the sunrise. We stood there hand in hand or in an embrace watching the brilliant colors come to life before us. The glory of these displays was breathtaking, making us both stand in awe of the world we often took for granted. Brilliant colors and island silhouettes blended into live paintings. In these quiet moments, we shared our thoughts on God, faith and hope.

Shortly after that, we would take off on a morning jog across the bridge. Running side by side, we would share stories of our pasts and dreams of our future. We laughed in between breaths for air. OK, mine was more gasps for air while his were simple breaths. Regardless, he stayed by my side for the long, slow, 5-mile runs even though he could have ran it much faster. Completely drenched in sweat at the end, but we held hands nonetheless. We even threw in a few hugs, giggles and child-like skips as we did our cool-down walks. I frankly never thought running was ever this fun before. Hhhhmmm. I guess all I needed was a sexy, sweet guy at my side to make them more enjoyable. They should have put that in some running articles. I would have tried it sooner.

My adorable date would then take me out to breakfast at the local island dinner. We sat nibbling on food and sipping coffee for over an hour each day. At moments, we found ourselves just staring into each other’s eyes quietly. For a split second I could lose myself in his eyes. I could see hope. I could sense love. I could feel safe. However, there were other moments where my mind would scream. “This is crazy! It has not even been a full week since you have known this man. Don’t rush it. You will only get hurt.” But as soon as those thoughts would come, he would smile or touch my hand and the worry would fade away instantly. My instincts told me everything was fine. There was no need to worry. So I continued to let down my guard and be myself. He seemed to do the same. Eventually, once our coffee was cold and we realized the faces in the tables around us had changed…maybe more than once, we headed off to the beach.

The beach was a short drive from the inn, but they were always eventful. We laughed until we cried. We kissed at stop lights. My romantic new man on my side would stop the car suddenly and pick me some wildflowers. I sat there watching this beautiful creature pull up flowers on the side of the road, just to make me smile. Surely, I am dreaming, I thought. “How can I be this lucky? Where has this man been my whole life?” With flowers in hand, we headed off to the beach, the same beach he would go to when he was a young man. With our feet in the sand, he told me stories from his childhood. Showed me where he tried to surf. The way his face lit up during the stories revealed his character and spirit. Yes, there before stood a good man with a heart of gold. A man who had faith in God. A man who worked hard. A man who was passionate about life and love. I could see these things in his eyes, his face. I could feel these things in his words, his stories.

Hours were spent on the beach as we got to know each other more each day. Countless shells were collected with discussions on what we could do with them. We planned a “craft date” where we could create some beach keepsakes. He mentioned wanting to make me a necklace out of some of the bigger finds. I took tons of pictures and he didn’t get impatient. He simple watched me and smiled. This amazing man even pointed out things that I should photograph and tried his hand with my camera.

In the hottest parts of the day, we succumbed to the heat. We let the cool seawater soothe our hot sandy skin as we clung together in the waves. Frolicking like kids, we splashed and dove around. We even caught a glimpse of some dolphins in the distance. One afternoon, there was no one around. It was like we had a good mile of the beach to ourselves. Naturally, we had to remove our bathing suits to skinny dip. Well sort of. I took off my suit but still had on my flimsy beach cover up since I was partially out of the water. So yes, in broad day light we swam around in freedom with our bathing suits in hand. We laughed about our “criminal activity.” First, we “steal” a room at the inn. Now, we were skinny dipping on a public beach. “What will we do to top all this on week two?” I playfully asked my handsome naked date. All he could do was answer me with kisses, which was the perfect answer of course.

Our evenings began fairly early each day due to needing shelter from the sun. We would head back the room to devour pizza from the night before while sitting on the edge of the bed, still sandy and drained from the beach. We would clean the beach from our tired bodies so we could peacefully nap, wrapped in each other’s arms. We drank champagne in bed. Nearly every time we were in our suite, there was music playing too. So at random moments, he would grab me and pull me into a dance. Fast, slow, silly, romantic. It didn’t matter as they all just fit perfectly into the day. Some nights, we would go out to eat a local place. Listening to the live band, we snuggled up close. We sipped beers. We danced close. We laughed. Oh did we laugh, especially when we joked about how we must be disgusting people with our romance of constant kisses, laughter, and feeding each other. “People like us would make me sick before, and here I am one of them! Now, I understand,” I said.

“I know! This has been a perfect weekend. So fun and romantic. And I can’t keep my hands off of you. It’s like a honeymoon almost! But THIS is our ‘blind date moon’ I guess,” laughed my sexy date.

Just before sunset, we would go out and find a spot near our running bridge. Sitting there hand in hand, we watched God’s magnificent evening display. The colors again blending the sky into a romantic painting, reflecting our mood. As we sat there on a rock, I felt complete. For once in my life I felt at utter peace. It was as though the rest of the world had faded away and there before me was this man. This beautifully handsome, charming and loving man. One evening, these thoughts were running through my head and the bold sunset colors were before my eyes, and then the world stopped.

My beach date, the blind date I had only met days ago, the dashing stranger I willingly ran off to the beach with said, “I think I am falling hopelessly in love with you.”

My heart stopped. My brain stopped. I sat in silence. I don’t really know how long I sat there frozen in excitement that was laced in fear. It may have been seconds. It may have been minutes. My mind started to do all the logical questioning. “This is too soon. How can he know? What do you feel? What if you reply with the same and it freaks him out? What if you reply with something else and it freaks him out? Am I freaking out?” I am sure if my thoughts could have been played out loud, it would have been comical. But in between this whirlwind of panic, there was calm. My brain may have been analyzing my timeline of past hurts and fears, but my heart was fine. My heart was feeling the same. Of course, I was scared though. Wait. Let me rephrase that properly. I was terrified. Anyone who had been through painful relationships in the past would be. However, I took a deep breath and was willing to take a risk. I was willing to trust my gut. “I am not ready to make a big declaration yet, but that is only because I am scared and hurt from my past. But when I look at you, when I am with you, I feel like I am alive again. I feel like anything is possible. So…I think my thoughts are not far off from yours.” It was not a poetic and bold statement, but it was honest and what I could give at that time. I looked into his eyes, afraid it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

He smiled a deep and true smile of relief and happiness though and took me into his arms to kiss me. I thought, “I must be in a movie. This is too wonderful to be real life.” But it was real. Very real. So real that my heart was racing and my smile filled my soul.

As the four-day “blind-date moon” had to end eventually, we decided to take a chance and take our fairytale into reality. I pulled back from his kiss and asked, “I take this to mean, you want to see me again once we are home, in real life? Like as your girlfriend?”

He smiled and while holding my face, he said, “Yeah, I think that is a safe assumption.”



This was a continuation from my story on meeting a fabulous blind date, which you can read here if you like.

To see the more professional pictures that I took from this trip, click here. I warn you, there a number of them as it was so stunning there, and I was excited. But, I did limit my plethora down to a big bunch.

New Adventures-Take the Risk

Many things have been changing in my life lately. No small things either. There are a number of large tasks to do at work, and a potential job change at one of them. I am buying my first home. I am transforming my workout and eating habits through a trainer. And…I just stumbled into a new romantic relationship. So a number of life-altering changes that could either drive me crazy with anxiety or fill me with excitement.

I chose to feel excitement and to look at these changes as adventure. If I couldn’t, they might be overwhelming, especially when compiled together. Of course that is all easier said than done at times though. So I wondered what has brought me to the place where I can look at things in the light of opportunity and adventure as opposed to stress and work.

I think the biggest factor that helps me is my view point. I look at life as a series of events, something to take step by step. Like a bug crawling across a flower, I don’t really know what is in store for me. It is up to me to keep moving around, see all that there is to offer. It is my choice to find the best vantage point and opportunities for support. If I don’t explore the unknown, I may never realize the beauty of the whole flower and all that it has to offer. And there is a certain kind of wonder to be found in all the different angles.