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....

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