Write Your Own… Fairy Tale (No Prince/Princess or Magical Wand Needed)

So, this is how it all happened…

Once upon a time, in a country far away, a baby girl was born. Her mom was a doctor, her dad was a teacher, she had an older brother and two sets of loving hard-working grandparents. Her family was very normal, average and ordinary. They did not have a lot of money, but somehow they always had what they needed. They had love. Growing up the little girl went through the following stages: sweet calm chubby smiling baby, crabby selfish terrible brat, very cute agreeable obedient little girl (when she wanted something) and very defiant crying sulking monster in the body of a little girl (when she was not granted what she wanted), an avid bookworm who spent most of her time alone,  a defender of the weak in grade school who would fight any boy, an excellent student, a shy awkward introverted teenager with few but wonderful friends, and an English Philology major who blossomed into a young woman with a curiosity and thirst for life, travel and adventure.

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The love in my mom’s eyes… I am so blessed (photo by dad) ❤️

Then out of the blue love beckoned and the young woman decided to follow her heart, even if it meant leaving everything familiar behind, moving to a whole different continent, and experiencing the total discomfort of being a stranger in a strange land. Like eating eggs for breakfast, wearing jeans to fit in, drinking brown lukewarm water pretending it was coffee, spending an hour in the car to go walking in a park, and discussing if a house would look better with bigger or smaller shutters (which, mind you, as it turns out, are only used for decoration and don’t even serve a purpose.) Some days (most days), she would think back about the life she had left behind: her warm and loving family, being able to walk to the market and buy fresh food, calling up a friend and meeting them for coffee and a conversation about arts, culture and literature, going out for a stroll or to see a play, wearing skirts and dresses and tall boots without getting weird looks. These thoughts brought sadness, so she turned back to her best friends: books. Books were full of wisdom and if there was one thing that the young woman knew for sure was that feeling sorry for herself would not take her anywhere she would like to be. Resolute to make a change, she made an effort to embrace the life she had now and let it unfold. The new people in it were different than her, but loving and kind. She tried to connect with them, went shopping for fun, learned how to play board games, planted a garden, experimented with cooking, started baking her own bread, read more books, enjoyed little outings to new places, and decided to embark on a year-long photography project as a way of documenting her current reality. She was not particularly good at taking pictures, her motivation was to just begin something and finish it, to stay occupied and distract herself from feeling homesick all the time. Originally she believed that this transition was a temporary relocation, but the more time had passed, the more permanent it became. When a house was acquired in a nearby town with a walking trail by the river and a coffee shop on Main Street, it all became a lot more solid. The young woman did not know a single soul in the new town and she was faced with a choice: either keep shying away from people, focusing on all the things that made her different than them and feeling a lasting lingering lament for the place she knew as home, or… taking a risk to get out of her shell, try to make some new friends and accept the situation as it was by attempting to make the best of all that came her way.

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“A flower must bloom inside first before revealing its beauty to the world.”
Matshona Dhliwayo

In a single pivotal moment of bravery, she took a bold decision that would determine her faith for years to come.  An ad placed in the local newspaper had caught her eye, and she dared to answer the call. With zero idea of what she was doing, she entered an architectural photography contest hosted by the local Art Gallery. Two photos total, that she had printed and put in some generic store-bought frames. After all, she had nothing to lose. With the same attitude, she also started volunteering at the Visitor Center, even though she knew almost nothing about the town. After reading countless books and being such a good student her whole life, now it was time to adopt the learn-as-you-go experiential approach, for it was the only one left.

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“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Lao Tzu

Much to her surprise, she ended up winning not one, but two prizes at the photography contest. She made her first friends, the ladies who organized and hosted it. She started getting to know so much about the town from the questions she was being asked at the Visitor Center and all the brochures. She got encouraged by kind beautiful people to turn her photos into postcards and start exhibiting and selling her work at art shows. She loved being able to walk everywhere from her house (Did I mention, she never learned how to drive? Subconscious fear…)  and enjoy the charming downtown area with all of its adorable shops. However, it seemed that not so many people knew about them and were visiting them. Selfishly motivated, the young woman decided to start a photography blog (b.. what?! was the response of many at that time), to show others how wonderful downtown was and encourage them to shop, stroll and savor it. She had no clue how to do that, but somehow little by little she figured it out and the blog over accomplished her original goal. In the meantime, her photography skills had gotten a lot better, and she got asked to take pictures of people. Armed with her now fancy camera and a ton of faith and courage, she did her first photo shoot for people who were not friends or family. Then the next, and the next, and she just kept on going. In the meantime, she got involved in a lot of local volunteer organizations, and she even started teaching photography and social media classes (without ever having taken a class in either). Her days became full and she had more and more friends. That made all the difference. For years later, when the love she had originally followed and her no longer shared the same direction, she discovered  a Source of Love so powerful and potent that was always within her. It had been there all along, just waiting to be unveiled. The more she reached into it and gave it away, the faster it filled itself back up. Her cup was always overflowing and she had plenty to share. It’s a Universal law that what we give away comes back to us, so it never failed that the Love she radiated away always found its way back to her through passages miraculous and unseen.

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“If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu

A new chapter in the life of the young woman began, who was now in her early 30ties. Free to dream her own dream again, she moved with joy amidst the offerings of daily life without deeming them good or bad, simply meeting them as they were and allowing them to be. For ultimately, they were just two sides of the same coin. The thirst for travel and adventure had not abandoned her, and she believed that it was possible to experience new places as the locals do in an affordable way. Reasoning minds tried to convince her that there was no such thing, but because she imagined there was a way, the way was shown to her. In a year, she was able to explore so many amazing places across the United States, taking care of pets and making new friends. By opening herself to the world, the world opened itself back to her. She created her good luck by planting the seeds of faith, inner peace and love which quickly blossomed into deeply rooted trees of human connection and reverence to all life. Her seemingly new lifestyle was not really novel – it was a natural flow of what she was designed to do, ever changing and ever expanding into loving awareness.

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“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
Anaïs Nin

The shifts within inevitably manifested without, and in a way to honor the Earth and all living beings on it, the heroine of our story decided to transition to a plant based diet. The latter led to a strong desire and pull to go to Hawaii – the remote magical islands have always seemed to have been calling her name. So when no pet/house sits were to be found there, she made room for new ways of affordable travel to manifest themselves. They surely did, and her dream to eat tropical fruit galore, learn more about growing food and spend lots of time on the beach became a reality. Including making chocolate from bean to bar and harvesting and processing her own coffee. There were moments on this journey when she felt intense fear and doubt, for all was so new and uncertain, yet that always signified that she was on the right track. Facing her discomfort and feeling it all, she was shedding layers upon layers of conditioning and attachment to old beliefs and things that no longer served her. Her sense of personhood was slowly peeling away as well, for she could be so many things at once and yet none of them were her true self. A Bulgarian, an immigrant, an English teacher, a blogger, a photographer, a social media expert, a house/pet sitter, a workawayer, a vegan chef, a self-made life coach, a divorced woman, a free spirit, a gardener, a hitch hiker, a model, a daughter, a lover, a friend, a little girl, a wise soul, a seeker, a lost spirit, a compassionate being, an adventurer, a homebody, an introvert, an extrovert – restless and peaceful, happy and sad, bored and inspired, silly and mature, childish and sensual, shy and bold, masculine and feminine, human and divine, earthly and cosmic. All was contained within her and none of it defined who she was. For her being was like a river, meandering through the planes of existence carrying along only what was necessary in the only true reality of the present moment. NoWhere and NowHere.

Happy pets Take 2.2

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Life was constantly teaching her that in order to gain something she had to give something up. Leaving was never easy, but always necessary. If she stayed longer in one place than she was supposed to something on the inside was always prodding her to move. The list of things she left behind was long… her family, her friends, her home, her country, her independence, her love, her job, her cat, her blog, her volunteer work, her house, her garden, her new connections, her belongings, her business, her studio, her attachments, her fears, her anxiety, her comfort, her security, her definition of herself. Grieving for her was a natural process that allowed her to expand into the spaciousness of even more joy. For they too together comprised a whole – one could not exist without the other. With time she learned to let go even more gracefully of the things that were no longer meant to be in order to make room for what was yearning to come. Her heart always seemed to know the answers, its quiet whispers only audible when she sat still and listened with no expectations. When the time came, she departed Hawaii as well. The islands left their imprint on her, like any other place and human interaction that weaved into the experience of the slice of reality she called her life.

Last Sunset of 2015 San Fran

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
Anaïs Nin

When she returned to the small town on the Missouri river that had become home, a quiet transformation began taking place. Everything felt familiar, yet foreign in a way – the same feeling she aways got when she was returning to her other home in the Old World. Her roots and branches no longer clung to Earth and Air,  for Fire and Water had brought to ashes and carried away all the familiar substance in her life. A renewed fertile soil was revealed beneath her feet, eager to receive the seeds of her imagination enriched by the multitude of her experiences. The year to follow offered even further expansion into the areas where she had previously shrunk – abandoning pride, shame, guilt, fear, worry, the feeling that she needed to know, the idea that she had to have it all together. Somehow, however, through the painful yet rewarding process of letting go, she gained it all. For she realized it had been within her all along. All that ever had been, was and would be was an all-encompassing One. Nothing was ever lost, just transformed to serve her in a better way. Energy in constant motion, particles whirling and swirling into infinity…

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“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

However, all of that was too abstract to share with the world. She somehow had to bring it down, translate it in human-friendly terms. That’s when she realized she’s always been striving to do that in all her daily interactions – the choice of being right or being kind. It was all contained in the beauty of ordinary occurences: like exchanging vegetables with her neighbors, meeting a new friend on the trail and offering to walk her dogs, swimming against the current with friends in the river and dying laughing, watching a little kid play with the sprinkler, sharing garden abundance with vegetable lovers, answering “Sure” to a text from a friend saying “Can I come and take a shower at your place?”, giving a proper funeral to a squished squirrel on the road, saving drowning bugs from the swimming pool, motivating every single soul she met, listening with presence to a friend’s life story over coffee,  making vegan cheesecake with her neighbor, smiling at strangers, sharing books, funny memes, serious dilemmas, laughter, conversations, tears, silence, insecurities, little victories, exciting ideas, and mundane stories. What she focused on, ultimately always grew, blossomed and produced delicious fruit.  For, “Life is about the people that you meet and the things you create with them.”

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu

 

And this my friends, is the K.I.S.S. (Keeping It Short and Simple) story of Slava Bowman {Photography} making home in herself as the main character of her life experimenting away on the stage of the wonderful town of Washington, Missouri. Thank you for allowing me to create alongside you.

Day 25

“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s” – Anais Nin

Needless to say (unless lighting strikes me tomorrow and I turn into a cat), to be continued… 😉

 

18

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was published on July 28, 2018 at 3:31 am. It’s filed under Musings, This and That, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Write Your Own… Fairy Tale (No Prince/Princess or Magical Wand Needed)

  1. A sincere fairy tale from a beautiful independent strong woman!

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