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TRAVEL: Feeding the Soul, Wellness Tips, and Trusting the Path

Zornitsa Shahanska

San Francisco



Mindful Magic

I read somewhere that slow living is about less mindless hustle and more mindful magic, which to me means being more present in our daily lives. Slow down and appreciate everything that is going on around you.

Beauty to Me

Beauty is being kind, open-minded, graceful, compassionate, funny, and being comfortable in your own skin.

Serendipity and Trusting the Path

About 10 years ago, my life hit a pothole where many things fell apart. I spent my days wishing for everything to go back to the way it was and went in circles trying to put all the crumbled pieces back together. Even after all my attempts, nothing was working, so I packed my bags and went soul searching on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. Initially, things went well as I went from a new city to the next while sampling delicious new foods and partying every night. But near the end of the trip, while I was in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, my bag got stolen! All of my credit cards, ATM cards, camera, photos, phone and half my cash were in there! I was already on a tight budget, so I took it pretty hard. I felt like the whole universe was against me at that point. I cried so much, felt sorry for myself and then cried a lot more. I still had a week to go on the trip, so we had to move to cheaper accommodation on our next stop, Bangkok. I canceled my more expensive hotel reservation for a cheaper shared-room hostel. The first night in the hostel, I went to the lobby to catch up on emails and prepare to take my defeated spirit back home. As I went to sit down, I noticed that there was only one power outlet and it was being blocked by a cute guy who was sitting right in front of it. I politely asked if he could move his leg so I could use the outlet and that’s how we got to talking. What happened next went something like this: he (Henry) visited me in Bulgaria, I visited him in the U.S., we traveled around, I met my future employer who sponsored me on an H-1B visa, moved to San Francisco with him, started posting on Instagram, started making money from content creation, traveled the world, transitioned to full-time travel photographer and found my creative voice! And now I’m being featured in ORIGIN. Magazine! When I look back at that night when I was crying on the beach in Thailand, wishing things went back to the way they were, I smile because I’m so glad that they didn’t! All these challenges led me to my true path today and I couldn’t be happier.

Photography as a Language

As a photographer, I appreciate that my medium is a universal, visual language that everyone can understand and enjoy. Some of my favorite ways of using photography include color, light and atmosphere. But color is probably my favorite since it conveys emotion while transporting the viewer to another place. My signature palette, which I chose for its optimistic, positive feel, is a mix of soothing pastel colors and a balance of saturation and luminosity. I feel like the world has enough darkness and hard- ship in it, so why not counter that with a splash of happiness?

Creative Idea I Love

I recently read that in Japan, broken objects are repaired with gold. The broken scar is seen as a unique piece of its history and adds to its beauty. This is a great metaphor for life when we feel broken and scarred.

Helpful Creative Tools

Video courses are a great way to learn new topics and skills. One of my favorites is CreativeLive, since many of the teachers are full-time professional artists.

What Motivates You?

I know not everyone out there is as lucky as I am. I live in a relatively safe country with easy access to housing, education and food. I have access to opportunities that many don’t, which is a privilege that I can’t and won’t take for granted.

My mom, for example, was born in a communist country where choice was not given freely. Individuality was punished, not celebrated. Despite her artistic talents, she never got to pursue a creative path because that was simply not an option. Every time I’m afraid of failing, I try to remember that no matter the outcome, at least I have the freedom and choice to try again and again. Considering where I came from, this is pretty amazing and motivates me every day.

Advice for Creatives or Entrepreneurs?

Do your art, be yourself and don’t give up! Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.

Lesson You Wish You Would've Known in Business

That you have to define what success looks like for you! Don’t chase other people’s ideas of what you need to be doing.

Self-Care + Wellness Tips

Caring for yourself is not self-indulgent or selfish, but important for your physical and mental health. When you give yourself the same care and attention you give others, then you’ll blossom! Something you can do is look in the mirror every morning and give yourself positive affirmations!

“I’m beautiful.” “I’m allowed to take up space.” “I like me.” “My feelings matter.” “I can take a break if I need to.”

“I am enough.”

Feeding the Soul

There are many little things we should be doing daily to take care of our spirit. We should acknowl- edge our blessings and the things that we are grateful for. We should slow down and take the time

to smell the flowers. We should show kindness to the people around us. It’s also very important to accept that it’s okay to make mistakes, fail, not be perfect and to ask for help. You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.

• One of your greatest lessons

Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

• If you could say something to every woman

Demand equality and accept nothing less!

• Great Advice you’ve Received

Learn to let the space between where you are and where you want to be both inspire you and not terrify you.

Books I Love The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho The Last Lecture by Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Life-Changing Quotes

“First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.” From “Make Good Art” by Neil Gaiman

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

From Steve Jobs’s 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

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