5 Tips that make going vegan easier ~ Mira Marshall

vegan food
Photo: canva.com

Some people can go vegan cold turkey. Others transition to a vegan diet over time. I transitioned to a vegan diet after being vegetarian for more than three years. Here are some tips I’ve tested to make your transition to a veganism easier.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or dietician. This is information that I have learned on my personal journey and want to share to help you with yours. I encourage you to do your own research and make the best choices for you. Please consult a doctor before making any significant diet changes.

1. Be prepared

Maybe you’ve heard this before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, being prepared is essential to succeeding with your new lifestyle. You should always have something vegan-friendly in your fridge or snacks for when you’re on the go. If you’re going to be out and about most of the day, pack a meal or know where there are vegan-friendly restaurants in your area. The last thing you want is to be tempted to eat something non-vegan because you are hungry and weren’t prepared.

2. Try to make the majority of your diet plant-based

When I say “the majority of your diet should be plant based,” I mean around 80 percent.The bulk of your diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains. This is something that I’m still working on because I love bread (most breads aren’t vegan by the way) and pasta.

3. Don’t restrict calories

Now this is one of the many perks of a vegan diet. You don’t have to, and, in fact, should not restrict calories. You are already eating whole natural foods, there is no need to limit calorie intake. Give your body time to adjust to your new plant-based lifestyle before limiting calories if you choose to do so.

4. Give yourself some options

It’s a total myth that vegan food is boring. There are endless vegan food options (well…minus meat, dairy and other animal byproducts) to choose from. You might have to get a little creative, but that’s another perk of being vegan. Here are some sites with great recipes to get you started: Sweet Potato Soul/Brown Vegan.

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself 

It’s totally okay if you slip up and eat something non-vegan. This is a lifestyle change, just learn from it and keep it moving. Give yourself some credit, the fact that you’re even considering going vegan is a step in the right direction. Nobody is perfect, which is why we need to encourage and support each other to make healthier lifestyle choices for the mind, body and soul.

http://blavity.com/5-tips-that-make-going-vegan-easier/

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How To Make Friends As An Adult In 4 Simple Steps ~ Margaret Manning

As many people in their 50s have discovered, making friends as an adult is difficult. Without the social bonds that connect us to others as parents, many of us feel isolated — or even a little lonely.

The truth is that it is possible to have an active social life at any age — but, first, we need to accept the fact that making friends after 50 is an active process. We can no longer afford to wait for other people to come to us. We need to take action.

This is the main reason that I decided to build Boomerly. I wanted to create a place where older adults could go to meet like-minded people. Along the way, I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about their experiences making friends as an adult. Through these conversations, I learned that the people who succeed in building meaningful friendships as an adult are the ones that follow these four steps. 

Step 1: Start by Getting to Know Yourself

When you ask people how to make friends as an adult, they usually give you suggestions like, “just get out there,” “join a dance class,” or, “try speed dating.” On the surface, these are fine suggestions. After all, making friends does require us to get out into the world and take a few emotional risks.

Most of the time, however, we are not lacking for ideas on where to meet people. We are missing the motivation, confidence and self-esteem to get started. For this reason, most people find that reconnecting with themselves is a prerequisite to reconnecting with others.

Think back over the last five decades. Have you spent most of your life looking after other people? Have you left your own passions on the back-burner? Have you let your physical appearance go as you focused on raising your family? Do you feel a bit emotionally bruised by the disappointments that you have faced over the years? Do you have regrets that are holding you back?

Dealing with these issues won’t happen overnight. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, identify the issues that you can control in your life and focus on those.

2015-06-07-1433688844-4204197-MakingFriendsasanAdult.jpg

Step 2: Develop Your Physical and Emotional Resources

If you feel tired, out of shape, or sad, most of the time, making friends is going to be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things that you can do to increase your physical and emotional resources.

Most people don’t realize just how disconnected from their bodies they have become until it is too late. Fitness after 50 is not about looking a certain way for other people. It is about having the energy and confidence to explore the world and make friends on your own terms.

Start small. Use the 1-minute technique to gradually increase your commitment to exercise. Get out into nature. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every hour to stretch. Try gentle yoga.

Then, as your confidence and stamina improve, increase your level of commitment. Join a local gym or see if your community center has fitness equipment that you can use. Find a sport that you love. Whatever you do, do something.

While you build up your body, don’t forget to nourish your mind. Write down one thing every day that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes every day in meditation or prayer. Learn to become your own best friend.

Step 3: Chase Your Passions, Not People

When people tell you to “get out there and make friends,” they are telling you to chase people. There are several problems with this approach. First, it puts other people on a pedestal. They are the prize to be won. Second, chasing other people simply doesn’t work. By this point in our lives, we know that the best way to push someone away is to follow them.

The alternative is to approach relationship building from a position of strength. Instead of chasing people, we need to chase our passions. This is the only way to meet people on an equal footing.

What have you always been passionate about? Are there any activities, sports, hobbies or skills that you sacrificed to give your family more attention? What fascinates you? What are you curious about? What gets you excited? These are the questions that you need to answer to make friends after 50.

2015-06-07-1433688888-9253641-HowtoMakeFriendsasanAdult.jpg

Step 4: Be Proactive and Invite People Into Your Life

By the time you reach this step, you will be in great shape. You will have a better understanding of who you are and the kinds of people you want to attract. Perhaps most importantly, you will have recommitted yourself to exploring your passions and getting the most from life after 50. Now it’s time to invite people into your life.

As you explore the world, you will meet hundreds of people who share your interests. Don’t settle for acquaintances. Look for opportunities to bring people deeper into your life. Organize movie nights. Invite small groups over to your house for cocktails. Propose hiking trips. The specifics aren’t important. Just don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. They usually won’t.

Making friends as an adult is possible, but, it requires a new approach. Instead of relying on our social circumstances to bring people into our lives, we need to take the initiative. We need to learn to understand ourselves. We must build our confidence. We need to pursue our passions, not people. Then, when the time comes, we need to reach out and invite people into our lives.

What do you think are the secrets to making friends as an adult? Do you agree that the first step to improving our relationships with others is to learn to understand ourselves? Why or why not? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-manning/make-friends-as-an-adult_b_7529424.html

5 Hawaiian Words To Redefine Health, Happiness And Power In Your Life

For many first-time visitors, Hawaii is a place where perfect weather and pristine beaches make for good vacationing and pretty postcards.

But Hawaii is much more than its idyllic setting. For native Hawaiians and those lucky enough to call the islands home, Hawaii is a way of life and a way of thinking. The native Hawaiian concepts of pono, aloha, aina, ohana and mana are crucial to understanding how Hawaii has consistently ranked as the least stressed and happiest state in America.

Apply these concepts to your own life and you may begin to understand what all the fuss is about.

1. Pono generally translates to righteousness. According to actor Jason Scott Lee, who grew up in Hawaii, living pono means living “with a conscious decision to do the right thing in terms of self, others, and the environment.” The idea that moral character leads to happiness has been around since Aristotle, but few places incorporate the idea into everyday life as much as Hawaii. The importance of pono, or doing what is morally right and selfless, is even found in the state’s motto: “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono,” or “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

hawaii helping

2. Aloha: When you look up “aloha” in the Hawaiian dictionary, every warm and fuzzy word in the English language pops up: love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity. Aloha is most often used as a greeting or parting phrase to create an atmosphere of friendliness and love, but the aloha spirit is a part of everything in Hawaii: people surf with aloha, cook with aloha, and even write work emails with aloha. It’s as if people in Hawaii are constantly surrounded by an affirmation or mantra to live life with love.

lei heart

3. Aina means land. Life in Hawaii is lived outdoors — malls, homes, offices, and even the airport are built with open-air walkways, large windows, or lanais (balconies or patios) so you’re never fully indoors. Native Hawaiians see their identities and wellbeing entwined with the land, and so respecting it and living in it are of the utmost importance. You don’t have to live in a tropical paradise to be connected to nature, however. A recent Canadian program initiated by the David Suzuki Foundation challenged participants to get out into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. According to Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet who conducted the research, participants reported “significant increases in their sense of well-being, feeling more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity, and sleep disturbances were all reduced.” Simply having lunch outside or taking a stroll through a park can help reconnect you to the aina.

nature man laptop hawaii

4. Ohanaas the movie Lilo & Stitch taught us, means family. The word comes from oha, which is the highly revered taro plant, and it signifies that all ohana come from the same root. No matter how distantly ancient Hawaiians were related, they recognized that they all came from the same root and thus were all part of the same family. Ohana is more generally used to describe any group of people with a common bond; people in Hawaii have a community ohana, a friends ohana, even a work ohana. One of the clearest findings from happiness research is that humans are social creatures — we need to feel like we’re part of a group and that we have support and security. Imagine how differently you would feel if you approached your work colleagues like they were your family.

coworkers hugging

5. Mana translates to mean power, but the native Hawaiian concept of power doesn’t equate to material possessions or what floor your office is on. Mana is a life energy that flows through all things and is highly individual: you have a chance to gain or lose mana in everything you do. In Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism, Charlotte Berney explains that, “Having meaningful work to do, enjoying harmonious relationships with those around you, and being of service in some way all help to gather mana.”

Perhaps one of the best examples of mana can be seen in the late Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s life and career. The beloved Inouye was often described as soft-spoken, modest, and a man of integrity, and his mana led him to be the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history. His last word was “aloha.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/hawaiian-health-and-happiness_n_3854391.html

21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action ~ Tess Marshall

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.

Why then is this so difficult to do?

Your Family of Origin

I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.

I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.

For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out-of-control and rebellious.

I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.

I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.

I was 27 years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.

After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.

Cultural Influences

We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.

If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.

Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”

Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.

Shift Your Self-Perception

Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness, , and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.

You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.

Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, moment by moment ongoing process.

It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.

Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.

1. Begin your day with love (not technology). Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.

2. Take time to meditate and journal. Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.

3. Talk yourself happy. Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-abuse of any form, move the band to your left wrist.

4. Get emotionally honest. Let of go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.

5. Expand your interests. Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.

6. Enjoy life enhancing activities. Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.

7. Become willing to surrender. Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.

8. Work on personal and spiritual development. Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.

9. Own your potential. Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.

10. Be patient with yourself. Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and the Universe will reward you.

11. Live in appreciation. Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.

12. Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.

13. Do what honors and respects you. Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.

14. Accept uncertainty. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.

15. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best.)

16. Discover the power of fun. Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”

17. Be real. Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).

18. Focus on the positive. Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.

19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection. Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”

20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth. Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.

21. Seek professional help. Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.

Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/21-tips-to-release-self-neglect-and-love-yourself-in-action/

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed ~ Ali Velez

Cookie Monster is a great life coach who really listens to his clients.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

He knows how to relate to what they’re going through.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

No matter what the problem is…

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

He will try to find something positive in the negative.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

When all seems hopeless, he helps you find your passion…

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

And provides the perfect comfort.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

What are you doing with your life? Listen to Cookie Monster! This is all the life advice you will ever need:

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alivelez/cookie-monster-is-the-life-coach-you-never-knew-you-needed#.gf9Lag0Awp

Thankful Thursday – My New Life Philosophy

The little girl dressed for school gets me crying all the time.

I didn’t want to introduce this video because it requires no words. Yes, it is an insurance commercial but it is a damn good one that shares a very important message; one that should become my new life philosophy. Just one man made a direct difference in the lives of four people, a dog, butterfly, and plant. Through simple actions of kindness he changed a little piece of his world and made it more beautiful. Plus, through his actions others became kinder…the Woman food vendor who gave some extra food to one of her customers. The kindness expanded becoming a sort of kindness squared.

I am loving this video and its great example of how we can all live a more fulfilling and wholehearted life. Grateful and Enjoy!

Magic Monday – This is Wholesome

So Cheerios got the ball-rolling and now everyone is doing it, and it’s awesome. In their latest commercial campaign, Honey Maid decided to celebrate families; all families that come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and orientations. It is amazing and truly uplifting. Now they could be doing this just for the publicity, but I like to think that they are doing it to celebrate the true diversity of America. Grab your families, your loved ones, and some awesome Honey Maid snacks and be grateful for the amazing love and support currently in your life. With all the sadness and craziness of this past weekend I am wishing you a glorious Magic Monday and lots of love. Enjoy!

 

Fresh Face Friday – Picture.Me.Here

The first organization to be featured on Fresh Face Friday, Picture.Me.Here is an exceptional project that combines photography, storytelling, and healing. In this special profile we learn from two of the founders, Brigid McAuliffe and Lauren Dorn, on what it means to live a wholehearted life.

What never ceases to amaze me is the power of art and creativity. That through photography and the motivation of three entrepreneurs we can connect and feel for people hundreds of miles away. That through this craft, we can bridge space, time, language, and culture. To me art, creativity, and passion are nothing short of magical.

To learn more about Picture.Me.Here visit http://www.picturemehere.org, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/picturemehere/picturemehere-storytelling-project-for-refugees-in.

Enjoy!

_________________________________________________

Background:

1) Name:

Picture.Me.Here

2) Website Address

www.picturemehere.org

3) Title:

Brigid McAuliffe – Director, CoFounder, Teacher
Lauren Dorn – CoFounder, Teacher
Erin Preson – CoFounder, Teacher

4) Examples of your work

See Below

5) Brief Biography:

Picture.Me.Here began in 2012 as a volunteer project in Denver, working with a group of recently resettled Bhutanese refugee women. This first program had a powerful impact on the participants and leaders. Seeing this potential and need, co-founders Lauren Dorn, Brigid McAuliffe and Erin Preston decided to keep building the program. Today PMH offers multiple programs and exhibits per year and partners with the Colorado Photographic Arts Center for nonprofit status and advising. With a waiting list of participants and exciting projects/classes lined up, 2014 is bound to be a great year of continued growth.

Picture.Me.Here. Leadership:

Brigid McAuliffe is the director, co-founder and an instructor of Picture.Me.Here. She is a multimedia artist and educator. She also works as a videographer and photographer, helping organizations communicate their mission. In her personal work, she focuses on stories of cultural diversity and identity, especially in times of transition. She holds a MFA in Emerging Digital Practice from the University of Denver, and a BFA in Photography from Colorado State University. She has taught participatory media and digital storytelling projects as a professor and as a consultant to foundations and community organizations. McAuliffe has exhibited her work in the United States, Italy, and Argentina.

Erin Preston is a co-founder and an instructor for Picture.Me.Here. She is a photographer, videographer and adventurer. The beauty of all people and their perspectives on life drives her to continue exploring the various forms of storytelling. Her assignments have taken her around the world and from coast to coast of the US. She has worked with agencies including Catholic Relief Servies, LifeStraw, Bridges to Prosperity, and DelAgua Health. Erin has also worked extensively with the immigrant and refugee communities of Denver, Colorado and created the multimedia series “Stories of Integration” Agency for the Human Rights & Community Partnerships of the City and County of Denver.

Lauren Dorn is a co-founder and instructor for Picture.Me.Here. She works with newly resettled refugees in Metro Denver in the area of employment, education and English Language Acquisition (ELA). She has studied Spanish in Central America, yoga and Buddhism in India, and has taught English in South Korea. Picture.Me.Here. fosters her passion for photography, teaching and encouraging self-exploration and personal growth of local refugees. As the Community Internship Developer and Youth Education and Employment Specialist, she has developed innovative programs at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains focusing on internships, education, ELA, and employment opportunities for refugees. Lauren holds a B.A. in International Studies from Colorado State University.

Birendra Dhakal is an instructor for Picture.Me.Here. He is a Bhutanese refugee that was born and raised at Goldhap refugee camp in Nepal. In 2007, at age thirteen, he resettled in Denver with his family. Birendra remembers how welcoming everyone was as he adapted to his new life in Denver. He took his first photography class at South High School and is now a college student at Metropolitan State College of Denver. He sees teaching for Picture.Me.Here as a valuable leadership experience and sees the program as an excellent opportunity to practice photography in a different perspective, focusing on storytelling. He now realizes that documenting everyday life can lead to interesting stories. He enjoys helping newly resettled refugees navigate their new city and share stories about their experiences.

Life:

1) What does wholehearted and mindful living mean to you?

Brigid: Paying attention. Being thoughtful, considerate and patient. Slowing down. Listening. Observing. Honoring the world and those around you by asking questions and being genuinely curious.

Lauren: A journey of living in sync with the body, mind and spirit.

2) How do you practice wholehearted and mindful living?

Brigid: Striving to do all of the above… I have dedicated my education, career and life to this practice. Nothing brings me more joy than listening to others, observing, telling stories inspired by these discoveries, and most importantly empowering others to realize and tell their own incredible stories.

Lauren: Being in nature helps me to create balance and harmony. There is so much truth in nature. Taking time for true reflection as well as meditation.

3) What or who inspires you?

Brigid: Family, friends, refugees (specifically PMH participants), PMH colleagues and volunteers, storytellers/documentarians, teachers, individuals and organizations that serve refugees, etc… Similar programs that inspire us: Kids With Cameras, PhotoVoice, Aja Photo, First Exposures!

Lauren: Nature and so many people – my PMH colleagues, my family and friends and my partner.

4) Answer this quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild, and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

Brigid: To live courageously, to continue pursuing my dreams. To have patience to take things one day at a time, but stay committed and see the big picture.

Lauren: To live it preciously and wildly

5) What words of wisdom would you offer to your younger self?

Brigid: To be tenacious and patient at the same time. Take risks. Seize opportunities since life is incredibly short and you never know if you’ll have that opportunity again. Laugh often and take things lightly. To realize something stressful today is likely not a big deal in the grand scheme of things (These are things I have to tell myself now too!)

Lauren: Don’t take things so seriously. Surround yourself with people you want to be influenced by. Try many different things and do them with an open mind.

Work:

1) What is Picture.Me.Here?

Picture.Me.Here (PMH) is a photographic, digital storytelling program for refugees based in Denver. The project uses photography and other digital media as powerful communication tools for social engagement, community building and integration. Participants are empowered to tell their stories, explore their new surroundings and share their resettlement experiences. They build skills in technology, English, and public speaking. PMH projects culminate in exhibits and events that bring together diverse groups to view photographs, hear stories and build new friendships.

2) What is your Kickstarter  project, “Picture.Me.Here: Storytelling Project For Refugees in Nepal,” about and what do you hope to accomplish?

In April, Picture.Me.Here will teach a two-week workshop in the Beldangi refugee camp in eastern Nepal. This is a camp where many of our Bhutanese participants once lived and we will be working with refugees that will soon resettle to Denver. Most of our participants never had a camera before arriving in the United States and taking our classes… many express wishing they had a camera in the past to preserve these memories and their history.

In Nepal, we will provide cameras and training to empower these new participants to document their lives in the camps, the experience of leaving the camp (where they spend an average of 18 years), the journey to America and their first impressions of Denver and resettlement. We will have three exhibits: one in the camp, one in Kathmandu, and one in Denver.

Our Kickstarter funds will ensure we can carry out the project and exhibit successfully. We only have until March 21st to reach our funding goal. We hope the campaign will reach far beyond our immediate network, leading to an array of supporters and new friends! With enough supporters, even the smallest donation really adds up.

3) What have you learned about humanity and life through your work and artistry?

Brigid: I’ve learned that everyone has a story, but often it takes time to realize. It takes patience and commitment to craft a story in an artistic, engaging way, but it is worth the effort. Stories about our collective and individual life experience, can lead to greater social and cultural awareness and positive change.

Lauren: That people are extremely resilient. Refugees have lived through some of the most difficult life situations and are the most appreciative people I know. It is an honor to work with them.

4) What is the relationship between art, education, and service?

Brigid: I see art, education and service as one. Personally, I find sharing the creative process by teaching and collaborating, far more rewarding than working as a solo artist… especially when this practice builds stronger communities, offers support for marginalized people and leads to social change.

Lauren: PMH gives refugees a tool for connection and exploration. It is just them, the camera, and their curiosity. Photography gives them an extremely powerful tool for cultivating rich and rewarding experiences, self-reflection and understanding. These lessons lead to new skills, more confidence and greater integration.

5) What do you hope is the impact and meaning of your work?

Brigid: Through PMH, I hope refugees realize the value of their incredible stories of strength and resilience. The integration component to PMH is important too. Refugees gain confidence from sharing their stories in class with each other and with the instructors, as well as at the exhibits with people who may not otherwise meet a refugee. Photography becomes a powerful tool to connect and start meaningful conversations… it leads to a constant exchange of ideas, stories and cultural traditions. My hope is that these components continue to grow and thrive in our program.

_________________________________________________

Picture.Me.Here
Some of Picture.Me.Here’s First Participants – Mongali, Pabitra, Hari and Lachni. These women lived in the Beldangi camp. (Photo by Erin Preston)
Picture.Me.Here
2013 participants Anjana, Jamuna, Pabitra and Mon practice framing. They also lived at the Beldangi camp. (Photo by Brigid McAuliffe)
Picture.Me.Here
PMH Participant Maria told us,”This photo is about my sister. She looks out window. She want to be like princess Diana.” (Photo by Maria Mu)
Picture.Me.Here
Tashi talks about her photographs with a new friend. (Photo by Jen LaVista)
Picture.Me.Here
Taken at the 2012 Exhibit at PlatteForum (Photo by Avery Bang)