Transformations of 2012

posted on: December 30, 2012

This question made me a musician, a photographer, and a world traveler. Living the dream everyday. What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

I love looking at my previous end-of-the-year blogs to see how my life and business have changed each year.  If you're curious, take a look back at my 2010 and 2011, to see what happened in my life to get me to where I am now.

For me, 2012 was a year of adventure, but also a year of personal transformations.  

Here's a short list of what this year was like for me:
  1. Traveled around the world visiting 10 different countries: Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, England, Spain, Germany, Greece, and Australia
  2. Lived and worked overseas for 8 months with only a carry-on suitcase and backpack
  3. Learned new meditation techniques at an Amma Retreat and how to center myself in nature using a Shamanic Walk
  4. Hosted three free online webinars with
  5. Coached eight new and established photographers
  6. Gained another new on-call corporate client with regular contract work
  7. Freed up more weekends by doing more immediate turn-around work during weekdays
  8. Lost 45 lbs.
  9. Cooked more meals at home
  10. Walked and used public transportation more than any year before
Punting tour of "the backs" with @alexruthmann and Ollie, our guide from @scudamorespunts

My biggest transformation came from the practice of living simply and learning how to calm my inner anxieties.

Living out of a carry-on suitcase and backpack for 8 months was a huge practice in simplicity.  I couldn't really acquire anything more than digital photos and very small mementos because there was no room to carry anything more.  In this practice of living simply, I lost my desire to acquire anything new unless I really needed it, or needed to replace something which could no longer be used.  It was a constant reminder of the physical burdens and impermanence of material things.


As for the inner anxieties- I had never considered myself an anxious person, but last year brought on anxieties I hadn't realized I had.  I've always felt a great deal of control over my life, my outcomes, my future goals, etc.  However, traveling for 8 months and knowing very little about where I'll live the next day, how I'll get there, what I'll need, and what I'll do with my time made me face a lot of anxieties head on.  With so many unknowns facing me, I really had to learn how to let go of any expectations I might have, let go of trying to control it all, be comfortable not having all the answers I wanted or needed, and trust that my husband and I would find a way to make it work together.  In some ways it was like a constant trust fall exercise.  There is always more comfort in knowing what to expect and knowing that you'll have certain resources to rely on, so learning to be calm and comfortable with not knowing and not having things is a whole different level of internal calm and trust in the universe.  Learning how to meditate to calm my mind helped a LOT.  Having a warm patch of soft grass to lay in occasionally was also helpful.

Afternoon nap

After traveling the world, it's not the amazing scenery, different foods, or interesting cultural differences I remember the most- it's that we share so much in common with one another.  We have common fears and common anxieties, even when we live in countries with vastly different governments and rules.  We all want to feel safe, loved, and peaceful with one another.  The easiest way to achieve this, is to begin within our own hearts.  To find safety in our ability to survive in the face of insecurity, to feel loved and cared for by looking after our own body and soul, and to have a peaceful mind and heart that embraces whatever comes with grace and gratitude.

Carry on...

If you'd like to see all of the random and weird personal Instagram photos I snapped during my travels, head to my Flickr gallery, where you can start at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and travel backwards through my adventures.

Letting Go of Expectation - Gratitude Journal #10

posted on: July 23, 2012

I expected that I'd have a child by the time I was 30.  That didn't happen.  I expected I'd live within easy driving distance to my family most of my life.  That stopped happening in 2008.  I expected I'd have a staff and associates after 5 years of being in business.  Instead I've had to keep my business lean and small to restart my business in multiple cities to support my husband's career moves.  I expected I'd have a big house with a dog and plenty of room to entertain.  That happened for a few years and then it unhappened when we moved away to a city of mills and lofts.  I expected my skin would be smoother and less sensitive after my 20s.  That will probably never actually happen.

Fantasies Fairytales 376

What HAS happened, is that I've learned to let go of my expectations about what life should be and learned to make the most of life as it actually is, rather than waiting for things to change or expecting it to fit into a fairytale version of life.  The result has been a freedom to appreciate each moment for what it is, rather than expecting it to be more like I imagined it should be in the first place.  Having a big imagination full of ideals and expectations is great for creating art, making movies, and writing fiction, but it can be a liability when it comes to appreciating the imperfections of reality.  I've learned that real happiness comes from a practice of being grateful for everything as it is right now, rather than expecting happiness to come when things are different.

Reality: I may never have kids.
Rather than waiting for kids to happen, or trying to make them happen, I'm just focusing on the joys that come with not having kids right now.  The freedom to travel without much burden or additional expense, going to concerts and movies on weeknights, sleeping soundly at night not worrying about what might happen, and getting together with friends without needing to find a babysitter.  If I had kids, I'd be grateful for new experiences that children bring to our lives.

Fantasies Fairytales 390

Reality: I may never live within driving distance of my family again.
What we trade off in missed opportunities to be around for family more often, we gain in opportunities to live a better life for both my husband and I.  We also gain a culturally rich and supportive community that aligns more closely with our larger values in life, along with access to resources that can be difficult to come by where our families live.  When we visit for the holidays, we're able to spend dedicated and extended time with our family without the hassles of regular working life to get in the way.  If I lived near family, I'd be grateful for having someone nearby that I could trust to help me out when I need them most.

Reality: I may never have a staff and associates for my business.
I've realized that not having a staff has made me more flexible in business and given me more freedom to take risks and make quick and dramatic changes as I see fit for my own happiness and success.  It has allowed me to weather economic storm more easily and created opportunities for more collaboration, leadership, and engagement with others rather than trying to control it all.  If I had a staff, I'd appreciate having their support and help with certain projects.

Reality: I may never have a big house with a dog.
When I had a big house with a dog, I had a big yard that needed mowing and a lot of floors that needed cleaning, and lots of home maintenance that needed fixing.  I'm appreciating not having all of that maintenance right now and having the freedom to not worry about being home every night to take the dog out before an accident happens, or leaving the dog out in the yard because a job went too late.  If I had a big house and dog again, I'd be grateful for the opportunity to entertain and have more guests over, and for having a regular walking companion that made me get home at a decent hour.

Reality: I may never have perfect skin.
I've already spent too many years trying to look different than I do, rather than just being happy in the skin I have.  I've noticed that the most attractive people are those who are comfortable expressing their joy and who share their smile easily with others.  I don't need perfect skin to give someone a smile or to be joyful.  I don't need to be skinnier, shorter, taller, or have straighter teeth to exude happiness wherever I go.  If I had great skin, there would probably be something else I needed to get over in order to be comfortable and happy with myself- which is why I'm learning to be happy as I am and grateful that there is beauty in imperfection.

Fantasies Fairytales 458

I've seen too many people complain about what they don't have rather than appreciate all that they have- and even if our lives are exactly the same- the difference between their unhappiness and my happiness is that I'm choosing to live without expectations that things should be different.  I simply have gratitude for the way things are.  This doesn't mean I don't have goals or hopes for the future to keep me motivated and moving forward, or that I don't work toward making things better, it just means that my happiness isn't contingent on everything working out the way I'd like it to.  It means I'm not resentful or jealous of anyone else and I have no regrets about my past- instead, I'm simply grateful for all that life has taught me about letting go of expectations and learning to appreciate right now.

{If you appreciated this post, please share with those you think could benefit as well and join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

(Images are from the Fairytales and Fantasies production by Miracle Providers Northeast)

Design Find: Concentric Paving in Dublin, Ireland

posted on: July 20, 2012

Stone Walkway of Concentric Circles

Each piece laid by hand, one circle after another, perfectly surrounding the trunks of trees and filling the space between.  Dublin, Ireland.

Where the Sand Meets the Sea

posted on: July 16, 2012

Maroneia, Greece Beach Silhousettes

7pm Wednesday July 11th  in Maroneia, Greece

Design Find: Retro Heathrow

posted on: July 12, 2012

Abstract Art at London Heathrow

While exiting the terminal at London's Heathrow Airport, the googley eyes and gold tooth of this vacant waiting area made me smile and pause my hurried rush out of the terminal.

Newgrange: Ireland's 5000 Year Old Passage Tomb

posted on: July 10, 2012

What manmade structure is older than Stonehenge or the Eyptian Pyramids?  This one.
Newgrange Tomb

Newgrange Wall

What's even more amazing is that despite winters of heavy snow and summers of relentless rain, the Newgrange Passage Tomb hasn't collapsed or flooded and lost its internal structural integrity, allowing the sunrise to shine into its deepest reach on only one day of the year- December's winter solstice.  Definitely worth the drive out from Dublin.

Newgrange Landscape

(All iPhone images)

Love is...

posted on: July 9, 2012

Wet Heart on Glass

... enjoying every last drop.

(From anneruthmann iPhone/Instagram feed)

As the Light Declines

posted on: July 6, 2012

The sounds of a trumpeting busker blast from the living room window behind me as drunken Temple Bar patrons break out into choruses from the bedroom window in front of me.  If New Orleans had a twin, Dublin would certainly be it's older and colder counterpart.  The chilly Irish wind blows in from the window over our freshly washed clothing in an attempt to fully air dry our clothes before packing them for another day of car and plane hopping to another country.
Temple Bar From Above
A rare view of Dublin's famous Temple Bar
I'm nearing seven months of living out of a suitcase and getting ready to head to my sixth country.  Australia, Spain, England, Norway, and now Ireland all behind me, with Greece, England (again), Netherlands, and Iceland ahead of me.  I still can't believe this is my life right now.

Dublin Lord Edward Street City Hall
Dublin's Lord Edward Street
 (iPhone images from my anneruthmann Instagram feed)

Time Flies When You're in Oz

posted on: May 21, 2012

I can't believe that I'll be leaving Australia in just 9 days.  I also can't believe I've been here for five months- where did the time go?  I've been instagramming, twittering, and facebooking as many updates as possible to fill the gaps between blog posts- so if you need to catch up at all - look in those places for more detailed accounts of my time here in Australia. (all photos below are instagrams from iPhone)

Architecture of Downtown Melbourne
View of Downtown Melbourne

What has Australia taught me?
Family is the most important thing in life.  Period.  I knew this before, but Brisbane has really cemented this for me in a way that just never happened in the capitalist-driven United States.  Last night, while watching Dark Shadows at the Blue Room Cinebar, it was the underlying theme of "family is the only true wealth" that stuck with me most as I sat with my mom on one side, and Nicky- my flatmate who I now consider a sister on the other side.  Brisbane is so community focused on creating healthy families and healthy neighborhoods, that I've been immersed in a love of family and community that I haven't really had when moving every one or two years while growing up.  Being so far away from family and not being able to easily pick up the phone and call at any time also creates an absence that really does make the heart grow fonder.  I'm grateful that Facebook allows us to stay in touch often, even if it is asynchronous.

Nicky & My Mother relaxing before the movie at the outdoor balcony of the Blue Room Cinebar

What has Australia given me?
A renewed sense of health and healing.  I really believe that Australia will lead the way in healthcare research and holistic healing innovations over the next decade- perhaps even over the next century.  There's such a strong focus on holistic health, natural foods, and healthy lifestyles- especially here in Queensland- that many other countries can learn a lot from.  There's a strong focus on mental health and caring for your mind and stress levels as an equal partner to your heart health.  While many people in the United States might rail against socialism, it's the high taxes that provide excellent city parks for kids to play in, great sidewalks and bike lanes to encourage people to move their bodies, great river water that people can fish in, very clean air standards, and an incredible public transport system that is unparalleled in convenience to any other I've ever experienced in the world.  I've lost at least 30lbs in 5 months by simply living in Australia and doing what I would normally do.  It's really incredible and I hope that I can maintain the same sense of healthy living when I return home to the over fertilized and high fructose corn syrup society.

Street Art Bottle Key
Street Art in a Melbourne Laneway
I'll never be able to blog every single one of my experiences here.  It just isn't physically possible.  I've saved as many amazing memories as I can on my iPhone and shared many through Instagram and Facebook.  Eventually I'll put them into a memory book to have and hold forever.  Until that time comes, I have another three months of adventuring ahead!  Alex and I will be traveling several different countries in Europe, mostly so that he can strengthen his international collaborations.  I've officially decided not to bring my professional camera gear for the rest of our travels (also because I don't have working visas for the other countries), but will still have my iPhone and will be looking forward to connecting with international photographers around the world when the fates allow.  Otherwise, I'll simply be appreciating all that each day and city has to offer when I have no agenda that I need to follow.  We gave up a lot to make this trip happen, but I believe that travel is the only thing that makes you truly rich in life.  We can't take anything with us when we go, so we should live to fully experience and appreciate every beautiful moment we have right now.

Anne Ruthmann in Melbourne Laneway Cafe
Me, drinking a morning smoothie at a laneway cafe in Melbourne

Ugly Betty to Betty Boop #3 - My Story of Weight Loss from the Inside Out

posted on: May 17, 2012

Fat is the modern version of medieval armor.  The more fat we have, the less other people's energies and negativities can get to us.  This may also by why fat people seem to be more "jovial" on the outside than our skinnier equivalents - as fat people, we can be perfectly content in our own inner world no matter what's happening outside of us.  We can choose to put another sugar and cholesterol laden cupcake in our mouth instead of spewing out hateful thoughts and feelings toward others.  A layer of fat is like a force field for any negativity we don't want to experience.  Some of us learn how to deal with negativity early in life, and therefor, never need a layer of protection.  Some of us acquire negativities and sensitivities as we just go about our natural life and encounter other people, who have their own issues, which they project onto us.

What I experienced as a teenager was typical for a girl who had full boobs, a long torso, a small waist, a booty, and long legs.  As I walked down the street, whistles would slide off the tongues of men sitting on the street, and honks would blurt from car horns rolling by.  Men looked me up and down like a piece of meat to be devoured, and as a teenage girl without a strong relationship with her father, I enjoyed every bit of this attention.  Somehow, even though it was a primal and animalistic response like a gorilla grunt and a bird mating call, it served my base need to be validated as beautiful and loved.  It was the attention I hadn't received from the man I had most wanted it from- but I was tall enough and appeared to be strong enough that no one actually dared to mess with me directly.  I was a frickin' Wonder Woman- an Amazonian Goddess with white freckled skin.

Shorts were always too short for my long legs, and therefore, I always appeared to be wearing "short shorts".  Shirts were also too short for my long torso, which was exaggerated by my larger boobs, so there was often a gap between the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt- baring the keyhole to my body.  To many men, I learned that this was a neon "Hot Now" sign, signaling fresh Krispy Kreme donuts inside.  Unfortunately, this was not at all what I had intended by simply getting dressed each morning, yet it became my daily experience, especially during scorching hot summers in Arizona and sticky humid summers in Michigan, when my only other option was to dehydrate from sweating in long sleeves and long pants.  I traded comfort in my bodily temperature for cat calls, and at the time, I was fine with that.  I was a teenager- fearless with a rock solid ego like a castle wall.

The only time I needed to start developing an armor, was when I met someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  Some people lose their armor when they find the love of their life.  What I didn't realize, was that marriage was about to bring on a battle of epic proportions with the karmic male demons of my past.


LOVE IT: Caine's Arcade

posted on: April 11, 2012

Build it, create it, love it, don't give up on it, and they will come...

What's even more amazing than the story itself is the power of imagery, film, and social media to spread this story. Combined with the power of people connecting to his story and being inspired to give, viewers have contributed over $50,000 to support a college education fund and trust for Caine's future. We'll have to check back in 30 years and see how he changes the world. In many ways, he's already made more of a national impact than most children his age. What did you want to spend all of your time doing when you were his age? It's never too late to start pursuing your passion right now.

My 33rd Birthday Wish

posted on: April 8, 2012

birthday wish

Get Away From It All Right Now - Gratitude Journal #9

posted on: April 6, 2012

One of the nice things about travel is "getting away from everything" that weighs us down when we're at home. When we "get away from it all" for a week, we might even feel comfortable leaving our computer behind and if we're on a cruise ship without cell signal or wifi, we might even turn off our phone and completely disconnect from everything EXCEPT that which is right in front of us at that very moment.

(all images on this post are from anneruthmann instagram feed)

There's a lot of power in simply connecting with only our immediate surroundings- especially when what's in front of us creates a positive exchange of energy, rather than draining our energy (like computers do). It's when real people smile back at us, real conversations make us literally laugh out loud rather than just in our head, real smells ignite our senses from a freshly prepared plate of food, or the real wind brushes against our face during an outdoor walk or bike ride. We can actually have these sensations every single day, but we often choose false sensations that we get from riding in the car with the air conditioning, watching food shows on TV while eating something zapped in a microwave, texting conversations with our phones and using smilies instead of speech inflections, and falling in love with movie stars on our computers instead of the person sitting next to us who has always been there for us. All the more reason why we have to make opportunities for these real sensations to happen more frequently in real life- so we remember what it REALLY feels like- not just what our brain remembers it feeling like.

We tend to think that we need to escape to a completely different world or place to really "get away from it all"- but the truth is that we can step back even in the midst of everyday life and create our own mini-vacations from whatever is weighing us down in that moment. We have a power button to turn off our phones for an hour or for sound sleep until we feel like waking up, rather than when some email or social media alert wakes us up. We have the physical power to step away from our computer and take a walk in our surroundings to see what is new or has changed around us while we were too busy to notice. We have the power to take a lunch break outside at work instead of eating inside the same building full of the same sensations we've been working in all day, and to invite friends to reconnect and laugh with to make it even more "sensational." We can "get away from it all" whenever we need to, and then return to it all feeling more refreshed, balanced, and happier because we took a moment to restore our connection to reality and the world around us and to realize that whatever is happening right now is only momentary, and eventually it will change - just as the leaves fall from trees, flowers bloom from dirt, and footprints get washed away with the tides.

I am so grateful for the gift of life and choice, and for this moment, right now, that we get to connect with these words and thoughts. You may even be seeing this at a completely different time from when I've written it, but it's because you weren't meant to see it until right now. This moment is yours. Yesterday is gone (stop obsessing over it) and tomorrow will be different (so don't worry about it). This moment, RIGHT NOW, is yours to create- take it and make the most of it.


{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

Huffington Post- Thanks for the Love!

posted on: April 5, 2012

I fully admit to checking my website statistics and analytics at least once a day. I like knowing where people are coming from and where they're choosing to go once they see my work. You can imagine my surprise, when one day I start seeing my statistics literally FLOODED with Huffington Post links in to my blog. Dude, someone at the HuffPost dug my work enough to link to it?! To me, that's about as awesome as if I were sitting across the desk from Ira Glass or John Stewart for an interview. What didn't surprise me, was the post they were linking to after I noticed their feature was about Iconic and Offbeat Detroit Wedding Venues.

I didn't notice any of my actual images featured in the article- they used flickr images that allowed creative commons use and had no watermarks... which may be how I was discovered and is exactly why I always put my watermark on my online work so that people will contact me before using images of my clients. However, the fabulous writer, Kate Abbey-Lambertz did something even BETTER than using my images by linking directly to my entire blog post of Mary & Matt's Detroit Public Library Wedding. (Kate, I forgive you for misspelling my first name- and I thank you, so that the Huffington Post google rank doesn't out-power my own personal website in searches for my name!! I love your articles on Detroit!)

Mary & Matt's wedding has been one of the most popular Detroit weddings on my blog because of its unique location and probably because I'm one of the only photographers who has been able to photograph a wedding there! I got lucky because Mary's parents pulled a LOT of strings to make that wedding happen AT the library. It's such a beautiful venue that I hope they make it more accessible for weddings to support its ongoing preservation and restoration. It's a gem in Detroit's history and architecture, so I'm happy that at least I can share a little of its beauty within the context of a beautiful wedding day. Mary is a Wedding Photographer in Western New York who takes beautiful & fun images as well- so I'm very honored that she chose me for her wedding day. ;-)

If you live in the Detroit area and are up for a Mission Impossible adventure... you might be able to sneak out of the window on the second floor like I did for this image (at your own risk of course), to see some GORGEOUS hidden tile work on the inside of the small archway above the windows. It just amazes me that they put that much thought and detail into something only window washers may ever see.

Boston Musician Headshot & Album Cover - Kat Goldman

posted on: April 3, 2012

When Kat contacted me about creating images for a new album and website, I fell in love with her gypsy vibe and soul searching honesty. When I asked what location would express her new album best, I was totally surprised when she said Harvard Square in Cambridge. Really?! I always kind of imagined a gypsy traveling along in the wilderness somewhere near a dusty road, but I was up for the challenge and was curious to see what we'd be able to create in this all too familiar place for so many city dwellers. With the help of some toussled hair styling from Pyara Aveda Salon, a little lace and fringe, and some beautiful golden sunlight, I think we achieved that road-well-traveled gypsy vibe, with just a dash of hopeful whimsy that comes out in her music...

These images were also quite a big departure from my normal happy headshot work- and I had to stop myself from trying to draw out more smiles than Kat wanted to convey. Thankfully, a quick share from the back of the camera confirmed I was capturing the look she wanted so that I could just run with it and let the lyrics from her soul play out on her face. I can't express how much I love working with other artists and being a part of their creations.

Her new website and album are officially available- so definitely check out her music and help support a local independent artist:

Kat - thank you so much for introducing me to your story and your music. You make the world a better place by being honest about yourself and sharing it with others. ;-)

Less Me, More You

posted on: April 1, 2012

I feel like I share so many personal stories and moments in this public space, but due to its one-way nature, I rarely get to learn anything about you and what you're about. I know this blog reaches approximately 10,000 people in one way or another (which is incredible), but I feel like I only know about 1% of those people (which makes me sad). After browsing through the book above, I'm interested to hear more about you. I'd love to know what your world is like for a change!

I'm including a few questions simply because I know you're more likely to respond to something specific, but please expand or give completely different responses in the comments if you wish. All responses will be kept private and no one else will be able to see what you've written. I'm so grateful you're here and I want to discover what the world looks like through your eyes for a change. ;-)

The questions may take a moment to load, but if you don't see questions below [CLICK HERE]

Integrity Challenges - Gratitude Journal #8

posted on: March 29, 2012

Detroit Indian Hindi Catholic Wedding

I think we've all found ourselves in a situation at one point or another when our integrity was tested. Most often we encounter this challenge when our actions aren't perceived to match up with our words, or when someone says we aren't "practicing what we preach." Sometimes it's as simple as missing a deadline, or failing to deliver on a promise we've made to someone in writing or even by suggestion. This constant #FAIL at life and business happened in royal-flush-spades for me during post-production for the wedding above. It was the biggest wedding I'd ever done and I thought I'd over-prepared for everything I was going to encounter, and yet still there was more I never could have foreseen. I was tested to the point of tears, breakdown, and pure exhaustion.

I'm grateful for these lessons that have challenged me to deal with difficult situations better, especially when much of a situation is spiraling out of my control when I feel like I should have it all under control. I am sincerely grateful for the tears I ended up shedding on the phone with this client when I was faced with the fact that I had made promises I wasn't keeping. I spent a lot of money and time making it right, but they had also invested a lot of money and time in me and my talent. I take their trust in me very seriously, especially because that trust is derived from the promises I make. When I screw up- I admit it and I fix it.

As nice as it is for people to be polite about their feelings and not wanting to upset anyone, please, call me out when I'm acting like a hypocrite or I've made a promise I haven't kept. Do it with love for who you know I aspire to be even if I haven't figured out how to be that amazing just yet. I am human. I make mistakes. I am not perfect and I know it. Integrity is a big deal to me, and when I'm not being true to my word, I want to be called on it. It might lead to frustration and anger if I'm not prepared to face the hard truth, but it's because I am frustrated with myself for not realizing that I was doing something against the value system that I believe so strongly in.

Likewise, when you tell me I've been acting against my values when I feel strongly that I'm in line with my values, you give me an opportunity to share my reasoning or understanding of those values. Perhaps we understand certain words or values differently from one another and what is perceived as hypocrisy to you, is really just a different interpretation of the same word, or a different interpretation of how that word plays out in actions. If you talk to me about it, we can both reach a new understanding together. We may even end up agreeing to disagree, but at least we will understand where each person is coming from and how our actions may be perceived by others we encounter on a regular basis.

Try to understand me before you judge me. Ask me to explain and clarify before you assume. It takes more time, but the results are far more peaceful and less harmful. We cannot control how others perceive us, but we can have patience and understanding that perhaps their world view is so different from our own that they don't even know when what they've done has had such a negative impact on us. When we hold onto hate, we hold onto burden and baggage that we don't need to carry. It does not weight the other person down, it only weighs us down, which means it's our responsibility to address it and understand it better from a different perspective. Once we reach a point of understanding, we can have greater peace of mind and flexibility in sharing more easily with those who do not have our same values or perspectives on the world. When you seek to understand others, you are seeking a sense of peace for yourself.

While being inspired to write this post, I ran into this cute comic, which describes a lot of why people tend to misunderstand and get angry with people they don't agree with...
Girlie Pains Emotional Baggage Comic
[Get more Girlie Pains]

I also ran into this, which explains my approach to gratitude...
More on the Use and Misuse of Gratitude from Deepak Chopra

{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

Great Ocean Road Rainbow - One Minute Vacation

posted on: March 27, 2012

While traveling the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia - we encountered several storms and several rainbows. This one appeared when we had taken a break to walk the beach together. I was able to capture it just before it disappeared again and I wanted to share it with you so that you could have a minute to stop and appreciate it as well. Take as many one minute vacations as you need to help you relax and feel refreshed.

Ugly Betty to Betty Boop #2 - My Story of Weight Loss from the Inside Out

posted on: March 25, 2012

Being fat is a process, much like being healthy. It's a process of choices that we make every day. For me, that process started somewhere around my 23rd trip around the sun and shortly after becoming engaged to my husband. In many ways, it felt a bit like a switch had been flipped and instead of my body converting food into energy, it was converting food into fat. I didn't feel like I had made drastic changes to my diet or exercise routine, yet my favorite clothes were no longer fitting me and it was becoming harder to shop the clearance rack for a regular size. I always considered myself the person who could eat anything and not gain weight, but a new pound of fat each month was quite clearly telling me otherwise.

[WARNING: Too much information ahead]

Gaining weight wan't my only problem- other changes were happening as well. I started missing periods, I started growing dark hair in places that I hadn't before, my skin started breaking out more, and instead of gaining weight all over, a lot of my weight was ending up around my abdomen. The university nurse practitioner wondered if I suddenly had poly-cycstic ovarian syndrome, but after testing for several of the regular symptoms associated with PCOS and getting negative results, the verdict was inconclusive. Several other doctors and multiple tests later, the results still do not point to signs of PCOS. According to blood tests, I also wasn't diabetic, and even though my thyroid was slightly lower than average, it wasn't low enough to cause a metabolic shut down. By normal medical measures, I was a happy and healthy person. I always had low blood pressure and a healthy heart rate, and I could still crank out 45 minutes of intense cardio whenever I wanted.

My trips to the gym didn't seem to have any affect on the pounds of fat that I wanted to eliminate before getting into a wedding dress. Exercise also wasn't helping me recognize the stranger I started seeing in photographs of myself. If Facebook had been around, I probably would have untagged myself from all photos simply because I didn't recognize myself. That stranger looked like an overweight stunt double version of me, but it certainly didn't look like the Anne I knew and loved. I always had that weird feeling when I looked at pictures of myself, as many people do- the person in photos feeling different from the person in the mirror, but that's easily explained. A picture is how other people see us, a mirror is a reverse image of our body. I knew what that felt like, but this unrecognizable person just looked like an alien to me, not even a reverse image of myself, more like a "Nutty Professor" version of myself.

The more I denied that the overweight stranger in the photos was me, the more weight I gained. My body stopped looking like a chunky hourglass and started looking like a fat person. I no longer felt comfortable showing off my figure and started to wear clothes that hid my best features rather than highlighting them. Shopping became more frustrating as I was no longer able to shop average size racks and had to start looking in the plus sections. Finding clothes that didn't make me feel like an old bag lady became increasingly difficult. I kept putting stakes in the ground when it came to weight gain. The first stake was 200lbs. I decided that if I reached 200lbs, I would start making drastic changes. I'm not even sure when I hit 200lbs, but I have a feeling it was somewhere during a point in time when I was too consumed with work to implement any real changes. The next time I was able to think about my health, the stake was moved to 230lbs. It wasn't until I reached 260lbs that I actually started to take control of my health and make real changes happen.

LOVE IT: Love Song Mixtape

posted on: March 20, 2012

Photo from anneruthmann Instagram feed.

Love has always been important to me. When I was a pre-teen living in Arizona and had to give a speech for an Optimist Oratorical Contest with the starting phrase "What if...", I turned to poetry and lyrics to help me describe love. I wish I still had a copy of that speech so I could read it again and see what, if anything, has changed about my idea of love. I remember mentioning in my speech that I knew I seemed young to an audience of middle-aged adults to really know anything about love. However, I now believe that children know the most about love- because they have not had any reason to doubt, distrust, or guard against other people's love.

I wish we could all return to that child-like place of all-accepting love. Love without discrimination, reservation, religious separation, or judgement toward others. Until we can heal ourselves and return to that place of fullness in our own love, we can at least indulge in music that reminds us a little bit of what that love feels like.

What song in your playlist reminds you of love? Comment below and share your favorites! I love discovering new music!

Here are a few of mine (click to preview this playlist in iTunes):
Love Song iTunes Playlist

Brisbane Career Recruiter Headshot - Jana Cameron

posted on: March 19, 2012

Jana Cameron - Brisbane Career Recruiter

Jana Cameron is a recruiter and career trainer in Brisbane who is passionate about helping immigrants find meaningful work when they come to Australia. She has been able to build the life of her dreams in this city and is passionate about helping others do the same. I'm honored that she choose me to help her create personal images to represent her online presence. She'll be launching a new website soon for online training- and I'm excited to see everything come together for her!! To learn more about Jana, visit her website:

Jana Cameron - Brisbane Career Recruiter


posted on: March 18, 2012

LOVE IT: Independent Bookshops

posted on: March 16, 2012

My bohemian friend, writer, and bookseller Alise Hamilton shared this lovely clip on Facebook last weekend and I couldn't help but fall in love and share it with you. While traveling to other countries, it's the little independent bookshop that draws me in with its unique expressions of what a culture wants and is drawn to. Here in Australia, the independent bookshops tell me of a longing to travel to distant places, of not taking life too seriously, and of honoring the indigenous culture. If you're looking for a little adventure this weekend, how about visiting your local independent bookshop?

Ugly Betty to Betty Boop #1 - My Story of Weight Loss from the Inside Out

posted on: March 14, 2012

I wasn't born fat. Well, maybe I was. In baby photos I look a lot like the Michelin Man. I'm pretty sure the creases in my forearm are permanent reminders of where my baby fat rolls were, like an origami fold in life. These "Wrinkles in Time" have been shallower or deeper over the years depending on my weight. Same goes for the ones on my neck, and unless I want to sport the beat poet turtle neck look 24/7 like Diane Keaton, I still have to face those things every morning in the mirror.

I know I wasn't born fat because I lived most of my life not worrying about my weight or ever letting my size bother me. Once puberty hit, I sprouted like a bamboo stalk allowing those baby rolls to finally stretch out, leaving behind only the wrinkled skin reminders. The issues I had to deal with were less of the too-fat-for-the-clearance-rack kind, and more of the too-tall-for-normal-people-size kind. My shorts and skirts were always too short for my long trunk and long legs and my shirts were never long enough or roomy enough to fully cover my long torso and discretely hide my ample boobs.

As a teenager, I had the body that elicited whistles and honks as I walked to the park or the beach. I still didn't feel pretty in the face. In fact, I never felt pretty once puberty hit and my nose, cheeks, and forehead took over my tiny almond eyes. I hated wearing glasses. I just wanted to feel "normal," yet I still looked and behaved more mature than my age. I was 12 and many people thought I was 18. I felt awkward and out of place with other girls. I slouched so I wouldn't feel so tall. I found solace in music and theatre, where everyone was a little awkward, but not in competition with each other- just working together to create art.

Weight didn't become a problem for me until I got married. I'm not blaming marriage or my husband. I'm blaming myself for changing my eating habits to fit another person's dietary needs instead of listening to my body and what it was telling me. Blood tests helped us learn that our bodies metabolize sugar and fat in completely opposite ways. His risks are with sugars and mine are with cholesterol. We didn't find this out until about four years into our marriage. We didn't actually start doing anything about it until eight years into our marriage. Our unhealthy habits were beginning to affect our mood toward each other and our energy levels to do the things we love. I wish we hadn't let it get that bad before deciding we needed change, but sometimes you have to let everything go to shit so you can experience how awful it really is, before you'll get fed up and decide you need to take control and make some tough changes.

Travel the World - AirBnB Photography

posted on: March 13, 2012

Beachfront Redcliffe_343227

You've been reading my blog and have now decided that you want to live in Brisbane, Australia. I know, it's pretty awesome, right?! Or maybe you've decided you just want to travel the world more. Luckily, AirBnB has made this easier than ever. The company started in San Fransisco but now has rooms ALL over the world. It crowd sources spare rooms in people's homes and makes it easy for visitors or vacationers to find and rent a room for a weekend, a week, or a whole month! We used it to find two great places to stay for a week at a time here in Brisbane, and one of them ended up letting us do a long-term stay for the five months we're here in an area where we were having a VERY difficult time finding a place to rent! It was a win-win for us and the property owner because she got great flat-mates to share dinners with and we got a place to stay in the middle of everything!

Porch Woolloongabba_354669

We're also using AirBnB for our summer stay in London when it's close to the Olympic Games and hotels have raised rates and overbooked. We've also reserved a room in Iceland, where we don't really know anyone, but want to stay for a couple nights. After Christmas we'll be renting an entire home in Puerto Rico so we can spend a whole week together with the rest of my family in a different place.


Sharing a room in someone's home is so much more adventurous and cozy than a sterile hotel room. Granted, if you're a control freak and want starched white bleached sheets and a spotless bathroom, you really should just stay in a hotel. However, if what you want is a look inside another culture, the best insider tips on great cafes and restaurants, or even someone you might be able to take an adventure with, than you'll LOVE!

Outdoor Living WellingtonPt_350604

I think this little video really sums up the experiences I've had while traveling and staying in AirBnB homes...

*The following giveaway ended on:
March 17, 2012
Better luck next time!*


  1. Think of a place you've always wanted to go.
  2. Search for a place you'd love to stay in.
  3. Post a comment here on my blog about why you want to go there and include a link to the place you'd stay in.
  4. One awesome blog reader will win $20 to be used as "get out and have fun money"!
  5. Don't forget to include your email in the comment if you want to win the giveaway!
  6. Deadline is Friday, March 16th

Full disclosure: If you actually book a room, Alex and I get a little extra AirBnB credit for our travels when you use this AirBnB referral link. However, you do not need to create an account in order to search the service and enter the giveaway, but I think you'll find vacation room shopping to be very addicting!

Unexpected... Dad and the Dress

posted on: March 12, 2012

Most men stay out of the room while women are getting ready together and they rarely ever touch the bride's wedding dress on the wedding day. Perhaps it is that simple fact that makes this one small moment so unique and exceptional. To describe the relationship between a father, daughter, and mother in something as simple and ordinary as helping a bride with her dress, is exactly what makes me so nostalgic about freezing little unexpected slices of life.

Wedding Dress Lacing

Jack Kerouac's 90th Birthday Celerbation in Lowell, MA

posted on: March 11, 2012

I wish I could be in Lowell to celebrate Jack Kerouac's 90th with everyone. I've actually seen a lot of Kerouac traces here in Australia- in cafes, independent bookstores, and even at a recent Bukowski poetry reading. I think he calls to those who live in a state of wanderlust, which are often artists, writers, and adventurers. If you're anywhere near the Boston area and don't already have an adventure planned for today, I'd highly recommend indulging in some Kerouac wanderlust for yourself.

Jack and I feel similarly about the type of people we find interesting...
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” - On The Road

LOVE IT: The Most Astounding Fact

posted on: March 10, 2012

Click play in the video below to watch & listen to astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson's simple response to the most astounding fact about our universe...

(Music: "To Build A Home" by Cinematic Orchestra)

This resonates with me because I feel a strong connection to everything around me. Perhaps this is why I also feel so strongly about the concept of love and practicing it toward others as often as possible. To love others is to love ourselves. To forgive others is to forgive ourselves. By being open to others, their ideas, their criticisms, and their worldview, we can begin to understand ourself and our universe more fully.

LOVE IT: Save-ouring Every Moment

posted on: March 3, 2012

This perfectly explains what I love about photography and why I call myself a photographer. I can't help but "save-our" every meaningful or even small but significant moment that I get to experience- in my life, and in the lives of others....

What's it like to live in Australia?

posted on: February 29, 2012

Here are a few subtle or not-so-subtle differences about the Aussie lifestyle to an American visitor (all images are iPhone photos from my AnneRuthmann Instagram feed):

For the most part, Aussies just want to have a great time regardless of where they are. Based on a few different conversations, I get the sense that Americans are perceived to be quite uptight compared to Australians. Rules and regulations are more like guidelines and suggestions for courteous practices in Australia, rather than expectations of appropriate behavior in the United States. "No worries" is probably the most common Australian phrase used on a day-to-day basis.

Wine or beer are pretty much an expected accompaniment to social evening meals. I've tried to get away with not having a glass of something, and I often get met with a look of disappointment or confusion unless I tell people I can't for medical reasons. So, my liver is aging a little more quickly while I'm here just so I can keep up with the Aussie lifestyle.

Words are often abbreviated to two syllables and end in "y". So, Stradebroke Island becomes "Straddy", Breakfast is "Brekky", and Barbecue is "Barby". Sometimes word are just completely different, like "Pram" is a baby carriage and "Chooks" are chickens. The following photo is the local Salvation Army resale shop.... notice the name. ;-)

Greetings can sometimes throw me off- like when someone asks, "How you going?" How am I going? By train? Oh... "I'm going good." I'm sure hearing "How you doing?" could be just as strange to Aussies.

Public Transportation is for everyone. In Brisbane, it's simply phenomenal, and I can get pretty much anywhere in the city on one pass that goes between ferry, train, or bus. It's so easy, and with gas being so expensive, it's ridiculous not to take advantage of the dedicated busway that cuts through the city just like a subway would.

It's expensive. Similar to living in Manhattan or downtown Boston, "The Rent is Too Damn High!" We got an amazing deal to rent a room in a home that we share with one other person, and we pay $300/week in rent for our room. When you compare it to downtown Boston or New York, it's not really any worse, however, when you factor in that the overall cost of eating out is quite a bit higher because servers are paid a living wage of around $30/hr, it gets pricey real quick. Ironicaly, it's a buyers market on home sales, but it's a sellers market on rentals in Brisbane, which makes it more expensive for visitors. (If you don't already know about "The Rent is Too Damn High Party" check out this remix of Jimmy McMillan's platform talk.)

Sweet chili sauce, beets, and pineapples may make a regular appearance on burgers, and the mangos and apricots are the sweetest versions of the fruits I've had anywhere. Also, rather than getting a salty "ketchup" you're more likely to pay extra for a packet of "tomato sauce" which has a sweeter flavor. A vending machine Coke or Pepsi may set you back $4 or more, but there may be a free water bottle refilling station nearby to encourage drinking healthy. Buying fresh veggies and fruits like Kiwi is pretty inexpensive comparatively, and in the following case, even comes with a "Spife" for eating on the go!

Lamb... not beef or kangaroo... is the true Australian meat. Try asking for a lamb sausage at Outback Steakhouse and see if they have it on the menu- you'll probably be disappointed. You must watch the commercial below in order to grasp the country's attachment to lamb, as well as the very silly sense of humor Aussies have.

It's easy to find work. There aren't a ton of entrepreneurs, but there are lots of people who have a few different part time jobs. Because the minimum wage established for Australia basically protects people from ever feeling like they're poor, the only reason to really work for yourself is to create your own freedom of schedule. I think that the laid back Aussie "no worries" mentality doesn't really build a strong foundation for independent entrepreneurship, so lots of businesses are owned by foreigners or immigrants who find it very easy to get started and make a life here with just a small bit of hard work. Overall, Aussies believe that work is meant to support the life you want, rather than creating a life that supports the work you want. I dig it.

College is not an expectation. Because there often isn't that much difference in salary between someone who has gone to college for 4 years and a "trady" or day laborer, many people don't see the point of college if they can simply get a fun job that pays well. This may be changing as the immigrant population increases and takes over entry-level jobs, but for now, college is only something people think about when they want a promotion or certification to practice something that requires a degree.

There are a lot of environmentally friendly practices in place such as recycling and garbage bins side by side in all public areas, very few chemically modified ingredients in foods - less preservatives means less transportation and better freshness, half flush toilets for those small flush occasions, homes built to maximize air flow and low energy use, great walkability and bikability every where in the city as well as city cycles you can rent, tax credits for things like solar and energy saving installations, free public stainless steel electric grills in the parks to encourage group dining outdoors, and free public pools for cooling off away from home on hot days. As a side note, the image above is called a Hills Hoist, and is considered an iconic symbol of Australian innovation. Fact: on sunny days in Brisbane, most laundry can dry in 45minutes on the line.

What's #inyourbag ? A laptop I can't power up because I forgot the Australian plug adapter. Doh!  #janphotoaday #photoaday #jan13
Aside from a different power cord connection, many outlets have switches at the outlet to turn the power on or off for each outlet. I made the mistake several times of forgetting to turn on the outlet switch after plugging in my phone or computer only to realize it after wondering why my battery was on low instead of fully charged. Internet speeds are also fairly abysmal. I'm used to being able to upload gigabytes of images in a short period of time in the states, but in Australia it might take days for the same amount of uploading!

Last but not least, Australians love animals- and in several cases, have even built monuments for them. Americans love pets, but have no problems with harming road kill or shooting at birds, raccoons, or killing moles that destroy their precious yard. Australians, however, have an affection for almost all of the animals in the kingdom, and go to great lengths to protect them, sometimes to the detriment of neighborhood gardens- as is the case with wild turkey running loose around the city. However, for the cutest, most iconic animals that remind you of Australia, you have to go to nature preserves or zoos where their lives have been protected, because most native Australian animals are quite lazy and not all that great at doing more than eating leaves, laying around, and sleeping like this wombat at a state protected nature park...

Of course you'll find differences and these generalizations don't apply 100% of the time, but it's a fairly good overview of the subtle cultural differences between living in the United States and Australia. Personally, I think it's a bit of a utopia here and if it weren't for having so many family members back in the states, I wouldn't mind living here indefinitely. ;-)

If you're ready to visit Australia, you'll need to start by applying for the appropriate VISA online:

  Have any questions about what it's like to live in Australia? Let me know in the comments below!

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