Category: motivational

What Is Reality, Really?

Leaving Reality Behind

When we finish a vacation or come back to what we call home after a trip or a long weekend. One of the first things we often say is “Back to reality!” What is reality though? The world we have created with all of its things and stuff is truly not reality. Well it is in a sense reality, but it is a fake reality. It is what we have settled for. We surround ourselves with stuff that other people think we need. Things that typically only satisfy temporarily. We smother ourselves with these things we are convinced we need which in turn often forces us to become slaves to someone else and someone else’s agenda by working for them. How is that reality?

Looking At The New

Looking At The New

Get Off The Grid

I recently got home from a two week wonderful trip in which I visited several national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I spent an average of two days “roughing it” at each park, took the off the beaten track routes, stopped at several state parks, and drove down roads that I had no idea where they would take me other than into the sunset. It was a beautiful trip that filled me with amazement and awe.

The world we live in is truly a beautiful incredible place. The negative in the world is brought on by people. Fortunately no matter what we go through as a person, the negative makes up a small portion. If you think about your life only, (not everything going on in the world at one time) then you do begin to realize that there is more positive than negative. Negative stands out significantly because of this. If all was negative, then negative would be normal and would go unnoticed. 2017 has been exceedingly unkind to me, yet through it all, I still see mostly positive.

There Is More Positive Than Negative

One way to see the true positive is to frequently immerse yourself in nature. Nature is pure and wholesome. We can learn from that. The important part of being in nature is, letting nature be. Protect it, observe it, let it be. I see so many people go into nature and act crazy. Throwing rocks, breaking branches, shouting and being obnoxious. Some find that it is okay to vandalize and paint graffiti. There is a place for street art and graffiti, it’s not in nature, keep nature sacred. Go into nature to find calm and peace or please don’t go

.

Are We Doing All We Can?

How do we treat the planet when no one is looking? Every action is accumulative, every wrapper, every piece of gum, every cigarette butt is additive. It is careless, lazy and self centered to think otherwise. There are people who go into nature that have no regard for nature what-so-ever; litter, graffiti, destruction, reckless driving, disrespect, etc. I find people like this to be seriously disturbing. Where is their place in this world if even in nature they are violent and hateful. I thought maybe if people who are not happy, depressed, hurtful or hateful would go into nature, into the wild, and find solitude, peace, themselves maybe they could become a different person. However after seeing some of what I saw maybe this is not possible?

Garden Of Light

Garden Of Light

For me, being in nature is a humbling experience, knowing I am part of it, and in a broader sense part of the universe and being connected to all of it. Which means I have to do my part in protecting it, cherishing it and keeping it safe for generations to come.

Nature is true-pure reality. It is what remains of what it all used to be like, before roads, high rises and pollution. The planet free of debris, clutter, man made crap and crud is what I consider real genuine reality. Those places are becoming fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller. Even in the national parks there are so many visual reminders of modern human interface. In my opinion there should be and could be so much less.

Too Much Clutter

Railings, boardwalks, signs, fences, buildings, power lines, etc. etc. seem to be almost everywhere. As a photographer I really notice things like that because I desire clean shots. My selfish desire for a clean shot has presented an awareness of the clutter we have created in our natural preserves. In some locations where there was an epic panorama there would be a building planted right in the middle of it all. I’m like “Why? Why there? Power lines cutting through beautiful epic scenery. I understand we do need some of these things. We just need to make much better decisions on how we implement them. We have preserved these natural locations for a reason, lets preserve better.

My experience in the wild left me with something I will get to keep with me forever. I have been to Yellowstone three times now and the other parks I mentioned for the first time. Though I had been there twice before I wanted to see Yellowstone again in October because of the cooler weather. I wanted to see it in that setting where the steam truly interacted with the crisp cold Rocky Mountain air. I was not disappointed, it was surreal. In many cases it felt fake. Bryce Canyon seemed fake. It is impossible for it to be real. It is real though and that is true reality. Experiencing true reality means getting out there and exploring. Exploring, discovering, admiring and being educated by nature.

Spacious Skies

Spacious Skies

More Please

Fake reality has brought me back to San Diego, to my studio. Life has placed me in a circumstance where my photography alone is not paying the bills. Therefore I am now seeking other means in addition to my photography to fulfill my obligations to others. I put a lot into this road trip because I was very aware that when I got back that I would need to get very busy. So this trip meant a lot to me. It meant really truly doing some soul searching, it meant really truly doing my part in this life to promote being in nature and to promote preserving it and to promote respecting it. I am left with an emptiness in my heart because of what I saw, its flawlessness and its innocence. I want much more of that in my life.

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I have been talking to you for quite awhile now. I have verbalized my thoughts, desires, needs and wants to you. I have been patient, waiting, doing what I can to stay positive. However lately I haveThe Universe had my doubts that you are listening. I know we are one, one and the same. I am in you and you are in me. My thoughts are your thoughts. Your energy is my energy. However it is not translating. What I need is not manifesting.

I am at a place where I am truly scared. I have worked very hard to get where I am at and I feel I am going to lose it all if something doesn’t happen today. It needed to happen yesterday. I need help! I need your help! I need things to fall into place. I need your energy!

Universe you are my only hope. You gave me this talent, you gave me a wonderful studio to work in. Why? If I am going to lose it all, then Why? I cannot accept that! Where is the give? I give and give and give. Where and when is it supposed to come back to me?

Universe you know it isn’t just about me. You know I do not have much. You know I do not ask for much. I just want to be able to take care of my daughters. I don’t want them to have to endure this struggle. I want them to be what they are intended to be. To be able to use their talents freely, without inhibitions. I need to be able to use my talents without inhibitions. I am not free! I have so much more to offer! What is the point of being talented if I have no means to exploit it? How can I help others if I have no means to do so? Milky Way GalaxyWhere is the confusion? What am I missing?

You have done so much for me. When I think positively it comes to me. It has so many times. Why is it so different when it comes to selling my art? I have worked so hard to this point. I have dished out thousands of dollars and lined other peoples pockets to get to this point. Where is my return? Why does this need to concern me? I shouldn’t need to worry about this at this point! Do I really need to go work at McDonald’s? Do I really need to give my energy to someone else, to those who do not care? To those who only want to further their agendas and fill their deep pockets? Who won’t give back? Do I really need to go work for someone else and be imprisoned to their ways and means for a few bucks? To deal with that just to scrape by? Is that what you have intended for me universe? Then why bother giving me talents and skills and the mind I have? I can’t do that. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help anybody else.

Universe hear me. Please listen. Please come to me and hear my voice. I cannot do this alone. I need your energy. I need your positivity. Let your Starry Nightpositive energy flow through me. I am at a difficult place universe. The tables have turned on me. I don’t want to lose it all. Please show me the way. I need things to fall into place now. I need things to happen now. I have been extremely patient. I have worked hard. I have been diligent. I have been humble. What more must I do? What am I doing wrong? What am I not seeing? What am I not understanding? Show me! Show me please!!!

Universe I accept your help. I know you hear me. I know you want me to succeed. You know I want to help others succeed. I feel your peace. I feel your energy flowing into me.

Thank you,

Paul W. Koester

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted

Believe Tree - Black's Beach Sunset

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on Black’s Beach Sunset background

In December 2014 I came up with the idea of a tree with motivational and  inspirational words written on the branches. The original design was this powerful oak tree with a lake in the background and the words on the branches. The message was delivered by this amazing tree but the background was too busy, I wanted the tree to really stand out. To do this right I knew it was not going to be an easy task. I spent over 10 hours isolating the tree, its branches, and its leaves, creating a clean layer. The resulting image was well worth the tedious task.

The first believe tree I created was on the teal background. I loved how the silvery effect of the tree stood out in contrast against the metallic blue background. Initially I was concerned that the words would be too much. I wanted them to blend in and be part of the tree. Present but still subtle, yet strong enough to read. I wanted them to be part of the tree and flow with the branches.

From there it evolved. From the suggestions I received I made a few changes here and there. A friend suggested that I also make the tree available as a designer piece. I was way ahead of him and had already created those images, which I titled Believe Tree Enchanted. Believe Tree Enchanted is the tree alone with no words. I chose the word enchanted because the tree literally lured me in. It was captivating and beautiful and stood out from all of the other trees around me. Rick further suggested an idea that lead to my unique Paper Series. There are currently two choices in the Paper Series, brown and teal. At this point the brown paper is my favorite. I like the grungy earth tone textures I created for the background.

Another friend suggested sunsets, “Can I get one with a sunset background?” she asked. Hmmm yeah sunsets, why not? So I created the Sunset Series which are derived from San Diego sunset images I captured over the past couple years in. There are currently seven different sunset backgrounds to choose from in the Sunset Series.

There are nine original Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted choices on various colors and black & white. These all look amazing when printed on metal with the silver gloss process. A metal print is the only way to go when displaying these trees.

This is one of those ideas that truly came out of no where. I was helping a friend and I realized there was a correlation. I saw a universal commonality in the ordeals that many of us are confronted with daily. The struggles we face. Many of which are derived from simply our own thoughts. The saying “I am my own worst enemy.” comes to mind. Many of the thoughts, concerns, and questions that we conjure up never cross the minds of other people when they view us or our work. As I wrote down the words that I felt were useful and helpful it began to take on the form of a tree. I then envisioned the words written across the branches of this tree. From there the idea of the Believe Tree was born.

The whole idea of confidence, success, not quitting, and improving stems directly from “believing in yourself”. Against all odds, believing in yourself. No matter what, believing in yourself. Though it may sound too simple. It really isn’t. Especially if you face challenges daily that seem to fight against you getting to that finish line.

Believe Tree Enchanted - Brown Paper

“Believe Tree Enchanted” as a designer piece on brown paper background

Life is intimidating. Taking on a new project is intimidating. Learning something new is intimidating. When I face intimidation I remind myself that I have been here before. Each time that  I faced intimidation in the past I forged ahead. I learned what I needed to learn and practiced what I needed to practice. Eventually without even realizing it, I had become good at what I was doing. So I take that with me to the next challenge. “I have been here before, everything previous to this was an intimidation at some point-in-time, but now it is not. Therefore this situation will be no different.” Again the root of this is believing in yourself. Knowing what you are capable of based on previous experiences. Even if those previous experiences were not incredibly challenging you still mastered them.

Another mindset that I keep in my arsenal is; if other people can do it, then so can I. Seeing other people accomplish something is evidence that it can be done. Or the knowledge that many people preceding you made it through. Running a marathon should be impossible, but obviously it is not. The same concept can be applied, if they can do it, then so can I. The key to this is to not overwhelm yourself with the big picture. The big picture is a goal. Accept the challenge one step at a time. What can I do right now? What can be accomplished today? Anything outside of that is out of your hands for the time being. Occupy your mind and thoughts with accomplishing the doable. Taking care of what can be done now will move you faster than you think. Soon you will see the big picture is not so big after all.

Believe Tree - Teal

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on teal background

I have my days when I wonder if it is all worth it. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be successful? Who am I kidding? Am I a joke? I could go on and on. I am very hard on myself, many of us are. There are days I tell myself, “You should quit, you are wasting your time!!”, but what if I quit one minute before something awesome happens? We never know what awesomeness is lying just around the corner. Ready and waiting for us. There really is no such thing as an overnight success. It may seem as if someone becomes something amazing over night, but it is probably very unlikely. It almost appears that way sometimes but in reality it typically takes years. Trust me, I wish there was an easier way, a faster route. There is a lot of sacrifice, there are a lot of doors slammed, there are a lot a people laughing in your face, there are a lot of doubters, haters, and those who want you to fail. If you truly believe in yourself none of that will matter. Truly believing in yourself gives you the knowledge that all of that is nothing but lies. The truth is inside of you! If someone says “You can’t do that!” you don’t need to say anything. You instead show them that it can be done. Do it for yourself though, not for them. Don’t do it to prove them wrong. Only do it because it is your passion!  Prepare yourself mentally that the road ahead is going to be full of challenges. I have been fueled countless times by people telling me it cannot be done. Guess what? it can be done! It all begins with believing in yourself and pressing on and overcoming. When you do this those people around you will have no choice but to believe in you too whether they want to or not.

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted are available for viewing and purchasing on my website at Paul W. Koester Photography and at my Etsy shop Paul Koester Photo. Prints purchased from my website are printed at Bay Photo Labs and are high quality however I have no direct input in the production and they are shipped directly to you from the lab. Prints purchased from my Etsy shop are printed by the printers that I have specifically chosen and I have direct control over the production of these images. If you are located in the San Diego area I can deliver and sign the image if you purchase the image through my Etsy shop or by contacting me directly. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

 

Confidence

What is confidence? How do you obtain it? Better yet, how do you teach it? Good questions. All with varying or even elusive answers. We all struggle with it at times. Some more than others and seemingly there are those who have obtained all the confidence in the world.

As an artist I often struggle with confidence. Not so much in my abilities, more in my confidence in surviving in the vast wprld of artists. I am but a speck in a huge sea of talent and creativity. How do I shine? How do I stand out? How do I get noticed? Yet at the same time I do what I can to not dwell on that much. It is a waste of time for my thoughts and energy to waste away on that which really is not realistic. If we all thought, “Well, there are an awful lot of artists out there, I don’t see myself succeeding. So I am not going to be an artist.” That then is an admission of defeat from the beginning.

Opportunity

“Opportunity” By Natasha Myrick

I believe in persistence. I have been persistent for several years. Putting my work out there. Growing, bettering myself, posting, blogging, etc. I could have easily given up based on feedback or the lack thereof on my Facebook posts, Google + posts, etc. If I were to compare myself to others, then I should quit. I should throw in the towel based on the numbers.

Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the stats! They mean nothing! What matters? If you are posting something, your art, a photograph, your passions, then that means you believe in that. You enjoy, love, what you do and you post it. What matters is that you feel it is important. It mattered when you shared it with the world and it still matters! What matters to you is truly all that matters, do not forget that!

Had I given up, I would not have my work hanging at the amazing Incredible Artist Gallery  in Cathedral City, CA. Had I given up, I would not have met many amazing artists who today I call friends! Had I given up, I would not be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Had I given up, I would not have had the opportunity to mentor 14 year old Natasha Myrick. Due to my ties with the Incredible Artist Gallery, I was given an awesome experience to meet the Myrick family at the beautiful Colony 29 in Palm Springs, California. The Myricks were brought out here to California to give their 5 year old son Liam the experience of a lifetime. Liam was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was only 3 years old. Needless to say the lives of the Myricks has been hectic, many ups and downs. Their time here in California was meant to create an up that would be part of their memories forever. For me it was a wonderful experience getting to meet all of them! Playing with Liam and his 8 year old sister Natalie. Watching them paint, play, swim, and simply enjoy life without worrying about anything for a few short days.

Look What I Did!

“A Proud Moment” Natasha proudly stands before her works at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

A good portion of Liam, Natalie, and Natasha’s stay in Palm Springs was spent preparing for their very own art show at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Natalie and Liam created paintings to sell at the gallery to raise money for Liam’s medical expenses.

Natasha is the oldest of the Myrick siblings. She has not had it easy. With Liam’s numerous hospital visits, being the oldest means having the most responsibilities. She doesn’t live the typical life of a teenager, yet she doesn’t complain. She understands and loves her little brother. Yet through all of that there is a creative side to Natasha that strives to be revealed, it has been suppressed. I discovered that talent as I mentored Natasha and helped guide her in creating some pretty amazing photos.

The Light

“The Light” image created by Natasha Myrick

Grandma's Promise

“Grandma’s Promise” Image created by Natasha Myrick

Natasha's Reflection

“Natasha’s Reflection” Taken while on a photo walk in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Here is where this whole thing comes full circle. How do you teach confidence? The moment Natasha and I picked up our cameras, Natasha began saying to me, “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” Lots of negativity was sensed. It was strong enough that I thought to myself, “I am not going to be able to teach her.” How do you teach something to someone who is this critical of themselves? I knew some of her intimidation was derived from me. So instead of addressing her insecurities I had her shoot away. I lead by example and just started taking pictures of the surrounding area.  She asked questions and I answered. My words were simple to her, “just have fun”. In my opinion that is lesson number one with photography have fun, then learn, always have fun. Setting her mind at ease was important to me. Being overly critical of our inadequacies does very little to help improve ourselves. Recognizing them, yes, that is important, but then move on and work on improving. How do you improve? Well that is simple too. Look back at those things that intimidated you. Are they as intimidating now as they were back when you were first introduced to them? Did you improve? Chances are good you did. Due to that knowledge, now know that you can do that again, and again, and again.

Soon I saw a change in Natasha. I saw her relax. She began to enjoy being behind the camera. I watched her get lost in the moment. That’s the golden moment, getting lost, that is when you truly create. As you can see she created some amazing images that she has every right to be proud of. Together we edited the images and Natasha gave them titles that she felt from her heart. While Natasha was out getting ready for the gallery showing I went and had them printed and framed. The next time she saw her images, they were prominently hanging on the walls of Gallery 446. What a proud moment! I was proud of her as was everyone else, simply amazing!

Natasha's Creations

“Natasha’s Creations” Beautiful images created by Natasha Myrick hanging on the walls of the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Paul and Natasha

Paul and Natasha at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Rick Pantele

Believe Tree

“Believe Tree” an amazing and beautiful tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on it’s branches. Image and design created by Paul W. Koester

Believing in yourself is the key to confidence. It starts with us. If we don’t believe then how can others? Never underestimate yourself or doubt yourself! We all go through it and we all need to be reminded of our self worth. Chances are good others will not remind us of our self worth, we have to do it for ourselves. When others are down on themselves I do what I can to encourage them and remind them of how talented they are and how important they are. As an artist I know what it is like to be down and have those dark moments when things just seem like they are not coming together the way I would like. The doubts creep in, we all need reminders that we are better than that! We all need from time to time reminders that we need to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!! The Believe Tree is a beautiful and amazing tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on its branches. It serves as a visual reminder that we can get through and overcome any challenge. Quite often that biggest challenge is convincing ourselves that we are good enough.

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