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Lifestyle, Motivation, Photography, Travel

25 Things I Learned at 25

January 1, 2018

This year was certainly a very different one for me. It began like any other year and had challenges, hurts, and disappointments of its own… yet, it literally became one of the dreamiest years I’ve ever had. Maybe I’m wrong, but this, being my 25th year (an age I’ve always dreamt would carry a sense of wonder, awe, and accomplishment) was truly something out of the ordinary. I have had experiences, feelings, and situations in the past year that have completely changed the way I think, feel, and act. It’s a year I’ll never forget, since most of it either taught me something deeply revelational about my own history, or shifted something in me that will undoubtedly impact my future.

This post may sound a little bit dorky, or maybe just plain stupid, but I think the more honest you become with yourself and with others, the more ridiculous you risk seeming. So, I’m taking the risk.

As I was saying, this world has become more and more jet puffed with superficial egos, filtered feelings and more hidden agendas than I can make sense of. We all live in a world that is so concerned with how things look… that most of us don’t even pause to think deeply enough about how things really are. Even I have been deluded by my own desire to make sure that I “seem” a certain way. That is, until this year unfolded.

I’m a social media lover, I loveeee seeing and sharing endless feeds of pictures and stories- but this year I took on a challenge to ensure that I didn’t glorify myself, my lifestyle or any of the “things” around me. I decided I wanted to literally change the way I did things and “see what would happen”. For example, I took less selfies, I stopped posting regularly on social media, I paused to listen more… I stopped to look people in the eye and read their facial expressions or body language more than before. I stopped to carefully live each moment. I tried to be more present. I tried to smell the air around me, feel the concrete beneath my feet, and take in the sights and sounds around me. I made it my mission to take in every new experience as if it would be my last, and the results were mind-blowing.

I feel as though the mental energy I gave to being more present, being more focused on what was around me and paying less attention to how things were perceived by anyone else freed me of the pressure to “seem” anything different than my truest self. I found hidden beauty in some people, and found truth in others. I saw situations more clearly, and felt less burdened.

I literally gained the most I ever have in a single year. I crossed items like exploring a new city alone off my bucket list, finished my masters, got officially certified in a few passions, won a dream trip to meet one of my inspirations, and began taking steps towards making my other dreams a reality.

Anyway, as I sit here (in a little New York Cafe, on a trip here by myself, where I’ve been able to do some soul searching away from the noise and clutter of my usual world) I’ve compiled a list of twenty-five things I’ve learned in my 25 years of life… the lessons that impacted me most, the ones I want to hold onto as I trek out upon my next 25.

I thought to note them as a reminder to myself of who I am, who I hope to become and hopefully as a note to anyone else still searching or in need of some gentle advice. These have been tested and proven in my own life, I hope that maybe at least one or two of you out there might agree or even teach me something I can add. Here they are, the 25 things I’ve learned by age 25.

    1. You are never too old or too young to follow your wildest dreams.
    2. Don’t complain too much about waiting. Everything really does happen in the right timing.
    3. Your parents deserve a lot more respect for all that they do. Being an adult is incredibly complicated when you have a family depending on you.
    4. Not everyone you meet means everything they say.
    5. Laugh more. Even when you’re fuming, laughter is almost always the perfect way to deal with a situation (unless that situation is death, in which case laughing may be considered inappropriate).
    6. The problems you have are often 50% because of your own mindset or attitude. Improve by adjusting accordingly.
    7. Be kind to everyone you meet. It pays huge dividends and always comes back to you.
    8. Let yourself off the hook sometimes.
    9. Work hard. At everything. Always give 100%.
    10. You’re never going to please everyone.
    11. You’ll never be perfect, but you’ll always be perfectly you. Although- it doesn’t hurt to always try to do better or improve “you”.
    12. Grandparents and seniors know so much more than Google.
    13. Listen. Listen more than you speak.
    14. Don’t be afraid to back down in arguments. You may lose the battle but may win the war.
    15. Apologies should always be sincere. Mean it!
    16. Look people in the eyes… and less at your phone.
    17. There’s a whole world out there bigger than you, get over yourself. Learn to be humble.
    18. Your passion will find you, once you know exactly who you are.
    19. Spend time getting to know yourself. Who are you really? What do you actually love? What are your passions?
    20. God is literally always ready to hold your hand and lead you. Just ask Him.
    21. If you must spend, buy experiences over things.
    22. Money is a wonderful bonus to have, it enables you to do extraordinary things, but it won’t fix your problems.
    23. Try new things. (Within reason and safety.)
    24. Love people with all your might, even if they don’t reciprocate or understand it, just know how much to show and give…
    25. Above all things, guard your heart… for everything you do flows from it.

(Also, below are a few photos from my NY getaway, and the trip that allowed me to digest all these life-lessons while plotting my next step. Onto 2018!).

Photography

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Faith, Featured, Friendship, Inspiration, Love, Photography

Love, Laughter and Happily Ever After – Jodi + Regan

March 17, 2016

It’s not everyday that you come across couples whose relationships have stood the test of time. I’ve seen social media swarming with new relationships and young love, and while there’s an adorable quality to all of it – I have always felt a sense of awe over couples that’ve grown up together and stayed true for years upon years. That’s where my true ‘awwwww’ moments are born.

Couples like my grandparents, who have honoured ’till death do us part’ and share generations of lessons, love, struggles and everything else that comes with a relationship have a different kind of structural integrity that I can’t help but admire. I only have a few couples in my life, and by few I mean like three… who have marriages and relationship stories that inspire me… and boy do I try to learn from them. It’s a rarity in this world, but social media often tells us that everyone has those amazing perfect relationships.

What social media doesn’t tell you is that it’s much more about getting through the rough than enjoying the #datenights. It’s about fighting for what you want, maintaining a firm grip on your beliefs, and striking a balance that mutually encourages, supports and strengthens both people involved. I believe the same goes for friendship. You have to choose friends who are willing to go through the tough times WITH you, knowing that the journey will be long, but will be worth it if you’re both heading towards well aligned goals.

If you’ve found that in a friendship, or relationship, I suggest you count your blessings and work at it to keep it going. Hold on to it tight, because it’s the stuff that so many only dream of. If you haven’t, there’s a time and season for everything – so take the time to improve yourself until you do.

For Jodi & Regan, the sister and brother in law of my dear friend Kade – they seemed to have found the perfect recipe that works for them. They seem to have found it, and are holding on tight! Being the lover of weddings, engagements and all the mushy stuff that I am –  I thoroughly enjoyed tagging alongto grab a few shots of their journey towards the big day. It was clear to see how well they fit together, and super inspiring. Shout out to all the dreamers out there (myself included) – it’s possible!

Here are a few shots from their engagement shoot… Stayed tuned for shots of their destination wedding!IMG_0183rblog

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If you decide to use any of these images, please link them back to me please or feel free to tag me!  🙂

All images © 2016 Aimee Melyssa

Inspiration, Lifestyle, Motivation, Photography

3 Ways to Feel Less Crappy

February 10, 2016

We’ve all had those days where we feel drained, purposeless, empty, disconnected and as though life is passing us by, while all of our hopes and dreams are on some dejected shelf in the attic of our minds, slowly being hidden from consciousness by endless dust and spider webs.

If your life had a title at this point, it might sound something like ‘The Graveyard of Dreams’ or ‘Kill Me Now’. (or maybe you’re less cryptic than me- which is a good start.)

BUTTTTTTTT… WHY? Why do we get to these places… and worst of all… WHY DO WE STAY THERE?

Maybe it’s life, maybe you need to look at your beliefs, re-evaluate who you are versus where you want to be, or maybe you need to reconnect with God?

Regardless of why, or how you ended up in this ‘funk’… I’ve come up with 3 ways to help you feel less crappy….errr crapée?…  perhaps that sounds less crass *maniacal chuckle*.

1. Try something new. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results… and they were right! If you’ve been feeling demotivated, disconnected or just down right uninspired- try something you haven’t before. Do something you’ve wanted to but haven’t made steps towards. Maybe it’s new cuisine, a different genre of movie (probably not something too depressing), visit a tourist spot, or even try out a new attitude for size. We have a ton of activities available to us on this little island of Trinidad, just make the bold step of booking something and go. You may not feel like you even want to, minutes before trying whatever it is that you choose, but lead with your body and your mind will eventually follow. The hardest part of change is always the start, but believe me, it’ll be well worth your while.

2. Change up your physical environment. If you’re not employed and at home a lot, go out. Go to a nearby park, a mall, a theatre, somewhere that’s not a part of your weekly routine. If that doesn’t sound like it’ll help, change up your room or living space. For me, cleaning always helps me to feel better and the physical de-cluttering of a space provides me with a mental response where I end up feeling like I’ve de-cluttered my mind. WARNING: THIS PROCESS WILL NOT BE FUN. YOU MAY NOT WANT TO DO IT. However… you’ll thank yourself when you’re done. Who wants to clean, reorganize or leave the house after a long day, ESPECIALLY when you’ve been having a tough time? Certainly not you right? This is exactly why you should give it a try. Change is usually on the other end of trying something different. For me, I enjoy cleaning and DIY crafting, so this tip has always been my safety net. Hanging up some DIY artwork, buying a piece of art that makes me happy, or rearranging my furniture until the space feels different has been my therapy. A physical action almost ALWAYS cues a mental and emotional one. Again, do it even if you don’t feel like it, and eventually your mind (once willing) will follow.

3. Choose your battles. Everyday, you’re more than likely going to run into difficulties and challenges. You’re going to have interactions with all kinds of people. You’ll have to deal with the bigger stresses in life – like health, finances or relationship issues… and then there are the smaller stresses like difficult co-workers or ‘friends’ who don’t always rub you the right way. Throw it all together and it feels like a recipe for disaster.Life is a continuous balancing act, and often it feels like we’re closer to failure than success. HOWEVER, I’ve found that separating my situations into two distinct categories helps me to find way more success in the grand scheme of things: Important… and… Not-Important (yes, not very creative, I know). The important things are the ones that affect your future self; they create conflict regarding your future goals, and disrupt your life. The Non-Important ones are the little things you allow to get under your skin and frustrate you temporarily. These things are usually short lived, and won’t matter in a year, or ten… yet we spend time fussing over them anyway because we’re creatures of habit. For me, I try daily to decide whether my current stress, annoyance or frustration fits into either category. If it’s important – I take a deep breath and carefully try to find a way out. If it’s not important, I allow myself a few minutes to get it out of my system and redirect my focus to something else- while reminding myself ‘Aimee, it’s NOT that big of a deal. You need to stop wasting time, energy and emotions on this, and move onto something else. DO NOT REACT. I REPEAT. DO NOT REACT’. I often fail and get caught up on many insignificant issues, but when I remember to take control and give myself a timeline to either deal with the issue or just move on from it (if I have no control), it’s a breath of fresh air. You can’t win EVERY battle, but you can choose simply, to fight only the important ones.

In keeping with this blog post, and trying to swallow my own advice – I gave Tip #3 a try over the long weekend and ended up at the most northeasterly point of Trinidad… TOCO!  The colours, sights and clean chilling air were so incredibly refreshing that I’m already planning another visit. I couldn’t soak in enough of the views that surrounded me, and I actually loved that I left wanting more. A change of physical environment can be so empowering, as can a change in attitude. Give it a go! You won’t regret it. I know I certainly didn’t!

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Food, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Motivation, Photography

You survived!

September 3, 2015

Birthdays have ALWAYS been something I look forward to, year after year. Whether it’s my own or someone else’s- there’s a familiar excitement that surges through my veins. It’s similar to that ‘Christmas’ feeling you get when the trees are lit and the stockings are hung and there’s unhealthy amounts of over-sweetened sorrel in your fridge.

I know that for many, it’s ‘just another day’. For me though, I believe in making the most of every single day you’re given.. and birthdays just seem like a scheduled time to have a little extra fun. Why not take advantage of a designated day to make someone feel special, or to treat yourself?

Growing up, my mom made all my birthdays special. It was never about the presents or the cake, in fact I’m not a fan of cake at all, nor do I like ice-cream… but it was always about feeling like you were important. It was a day set aside to allow yourself to feel like anything was possible. To this day, there’s still a bit of birthday ‘magic’ that I always look forward to.

Birthdays remind me of where I’ve been and how much yet there is to accomplish. They’re a bit of a reality slap, and I suppose for the older folk, that’s why they’re probably a bit more daunting. It’s probably a chilling reality for some to not have accomplished what they wanted to by a certain age… like getting married or having their dream job by a certain time.

BUT. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.

Continue Reading…

Food, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel

Falling in love with…

August 26, 2015

Food, glorious food! Is there really anything better?

My earliest impressions of food were formed during my childhood. I’ve always had the most positive associations with eating since I came from a family that loved to cook, and equally loved to eat.

Mealtimes were always a family affair; a time to share and laugh. We had many home cooked meals, but moreso we tended to eat out. I vividly remember trying foods from different countries and cultures, and absolutely falling in love with many dishes that are still my favourites today.

Sunday afternoons in the 90’s for example, were spent eating at Joe’s Pizza in St. James, most of the time, our whole family occupying the entire restaurant! The dining and entertainment scene wasn’t as vibrant as it is today, but the ambiance created in that little nook by the company kept transformed the atmosphere.

I loved it. I loved sitting with my family, hearing the constant chatter of buzzing conversation. The smell and taste of piping hot cheesy pizzas, strombolis, lasagnes and bread sticks. I loved the feeling of security that came from being with a huge family. The honest simplicity was perfect.

Fast forward, nearly 20 years later… things have changed, as they tend to. Not that change hasn’t presented it’s own beauty, but the time for these family gatherings and the unadulterated attention given to sharing a meal together just isn’t available anymore.

However, one thing has remained constant. My love of food. I still love experiencing new flavors. I still love eating and the nostalgia the smell, taste or even sound in some cases can bring.  Food, and dining, often take me back to that place when life seemed perfect. Perhaps it’s an emotional connection. There’s something familiar in certain simple flavours that deliver an inexplicable feeling of contentment by association.

I suppose that’s why food will never get old for me. Eating has always been, and will always be more of an experience for me than it is an element of basic survival. Anyways, I thought I’d begin photo-journalizing some of my favourite dining experiences in light of this love, starting with a dinner centered around one of  my favourite ingredients of all – cheese.

What are some of your earliest food memories? What dishes did you love growing up? Comment below!

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Gorgonzola crusted steak medallions, glazed with a balsamic reduction, paired with a side of classic parmesan and cauliflower risotto.

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Balsamic glazed steak medallions, crusted in sharp cheddar, paired with a side of creamy mashed potatoes and a seasoned steamed vegetable medley.

*Featured image: Creamy garlic, spinach and artichoke dip, loaded with freshly shaved parmesan and baked to perfection. Served with home made Tuscan bread spears. 

 

Lifestyle, Photography

What was your first?

August 19, 2015

Pink, plastic, “Barbie” labeled, carrying 110 Kodak film.

That was my first camera. I loved taking photos of anything and everything with it, and my sentiments remain unchanged. Example? The random photo chosen as the featured image for this post. (Although it’s simple, it takes me right back to the day I took it, the feelings, and the people).

Growing up, I rarely remember seeing my dad or my favourite uncle without a camera in tow on our family trips and gatherings. The big bulky kinds that made strange sounds and carried cassettes and film inside. In fact my mom also carried around her little point and shoot too on all our travels, snapping away at all the little things I did and places we went together. That’s where most of my embarassing photos probably came from. Thanks mom. I remember almost everyone around me constantly taking pictures of everything, so I was always pretty comfortable around a camera.

Through them, I learned to place value on my experiences, big and small alike, whether it was building a mini fort out of our couch cushions in the living room (Trinis, you know the kind I mean), or exploring the Hawaiian islands.

I consider my family to have been pretty tech savvy, with their giant cameras and motorola flip phones that were bigger than my head. I actually still have boxes of old VHS tapes and Mini DV cassettes loaded with home movies and I can’t tell you how many times I flip through them or the old photo albums we have. The nostalgia is always overwhelming, in the best ways. I love seeing other people’s family albums too. They tell such stories.

I place great sentimental value on old photos, which is perhaps the reason for my constantly filled camera rolls on my phone. I’m always trying to preserve a glimpse into my present, because I can’t wait to look back on it! (Ok, maybe not the 30 selfies… )

Anyway, in light of it being World Photo Day I thought it fitting to share a little insight into my love of photos and photography. I’m not by any means a real ‘photographer’, but I do qualify as a genuine lover of the art form that it is.

I once read that “We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone” which about sums things up. I can’t ever see myself not taking tons of photos of anything and everything, and I know for sure that I’ll continue the tradition of giving cameras to kids. Mine gave me one of my favourite escapes today, and I know my future kids will one day feel the same. You have to start somewhere right? Even if it’s on a pink, plastic, “Barbie” labeled camera.

 

What was your first camera? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments below!

 

Faith, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Motivation, Photography

Cathartic Bombs and Minefields

August 2, 2015

 

Ever tried sleeping in to avoid life? I have. It probably sounds immature, and not very conclusive, but it’s an avoidance tactic that I remember using as a teenager to diffuse ‘stress’. Shame on me for thinking that life was tough back then! Little did teenage me know, reality would only sting harder as time went on.

Thankfully, although now I’m plagued with new, more grown up realities… call it stress 2.0... I’ve found a few little anecdotes that I thought to be share-worthy..

Call it my ‘I wish someone carefully explained this to me before I had my awkward teenage stage’ revelations if you will.

Back then, I thought that everything was some cathartic bomb and life was a minefield. Now, I pretty much recognize that that’s actually true… Except… I actually posess the power to deal with every hand that I’ve been dealt.

There’s a simple solution to my problems that always existed, but I was probably too self absorbed to take notice.

Continue Reading…

Faith, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Motivation, Photography

Start Somewhere.

July 16, 2015

If only there was some sort of blogging mirror that I could use to practice my introduction to the potential readers here in internet-land, I’d be much more at ease. Since there isn’t, forgive my simplicity and timidity in creating this first post…

Hi, I’m Aimee in case my newly re-created logo failed to make that clear. (I hope you like it!)

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a deep passion for expression. I’ve always had a healthy imagination and an innate love for creativity in all forms.

A few days ago, while doing some thinking on purpose, specifically my purpose, I had an aha! moment of courage.

Perhaps these passions placed in me have a purpose. Perhaps I’m meant to use them to a greater extent than I do now. Perhaps I’ve wasted too much time waiting on the ‘perfect moment’ to come along to chase after what I want most. What a waste it would be to look back on my life and realize that I never did anything with the multitude of things I’m passionate about. What a waste it would be if I never tried to use whatever talents I may have to do something greater. What inspiring stories will I tell my future kids?!(woops that’s probably too personal!)

This is my attempt to ensure that I’ve at least tried. In the many hills and valleys of these twenty three years that I’ve been around, if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life. is. short. We either make the most of what we have NOW, or look back and wish we did.

A simple pin on Pinterest, (my procrastination tool of choice) humbled and inspired me last week after having my aha! moment. It started an internal revolution that can’t be muted. We often have hopes, desires and dreams that are silenced by our circumstances, peers or emotions… but the truth is, an escape or solution is always around the corner as long as we start somewhere. This simple truth was my new beginning, I hope it might be the same for someone else out there.

 

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