Author: Mihaela Limberea

A Desert of Waves, a Wilderness of Water

Abstract Photo of the Sea

It seems I talk a lot about my writing creative process on the blog at the moment – which is quite natural as I’m working on a book. So, today I wanted to offer you an insight into one of my recent photo projects for a change.

A few weeks ago, I dreamed about huge waves crashing thunderously on a rugged beach. The full moon, high in the pitch-black sky, illuminated an alien landscape. 

No trees or shrubs, no dwellings, no boats. No people. No animals or birds (I knew this in my dream). An utterly deserted landscape, devoid of any life. Nothing but the huge rocks and the surf glittering like tiny diamonds in the moonshine. Nothing but the endless rumbling of the waves and the cold silvery moon. “A desert of waves, a wilderness of water” (Langston Hughes). 

The dream made such an impression on me that it haunted me for several days. I couldn’t get that desolate landscape out of my mind. So, I did what any artist would do: set to work. I wanted to capture that landscape in my mind in a series of photos, and I knew it wouldn’t be realistic photos from the beginning. The atmosphere called for something else.

As luck would have it, we live by the sea. So every day, I would go down to the beach and experiment with ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). The light, the color of the sea, the clouds, they all factor in. I knew how I wanted the photos to look like; I tested different settings and motions; I learned patience. And got the photos I wanted.

As an artist, you’re always struggling to create the vision in your mind in whatever medium you’re working in, only to fail when you do – more often than not. But this was one of these dream projects where I didn’t fail. I love how the photos turned out. 

You can see the rest of the photos in my photo gallery and buy prints in the online shop if you like them too.


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Thinking About a Major Career Change? Here’s How I Did It.

My earlier post, about the life-altering decision to follow my heart and do what I love, seems to have struck a chord with many people. However, changing career, especially from a successful one to a more uncertain one like starting your business or becoming an artist, can be daunting. Fear sets in, and fear can be paralyzing. We know that we should act, do something, but we don’t.

“Why don’t I share what I did ?” I then thought. So here it comes, my career change guide!  I’ve outlined below the steps I’ve taken once I’ve decided to leave the corporate world. 

1) Start With the “Why”

Examine your motives. Take some time to reflect on why you’re thinking about such a major change in your life. For example, are you happy with the field you work in and the company, but your boss is a pest? In this case, it would be more helpful to change roles and work for somebody else.

Or you’re overwhelmed, and tired, and stressed out? Stretched at maximum and beyond, even though you love what you do, and your boss is an angel? Changing your career may not help if you don’t learn to manage your time and stress level.

The point? You must be doing this for the right reason

It would be best if you went into a direction you’re interested in, rather than running away from something, like a bad boss. You’re just postponing the inevitable.

Find your call. Think about what fills you with energy during the day. What did you enjoy you doing as a kid? What do you do when procrastinating? What activities absorb you so completely that you forget space and time? All these are good indicators of the things you should be doing.

Steve Jobs quote

When I ransacked myself, I knew in my heart what I was burning to do. Art. Easy.

2) Do Your Homework

OK, so you’ve found your calling. You want to start a jewelry brand. A garden services company. You want to dedicate yourself to helping people in need and run a foundation. 

Whatever it is, don’t jump to the fun part like creating a fancy website (it’s so much fun, I know!) or ordering new business cards. You’d be setting yourself up for failure. 

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. - Benjamin Franklin. Click To Tweet

Invest some time to research your new field. You could, for instance, join professional associations and look up more information on the Internet. Attend meetings and join relevant groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. Sign up for alerts and newsletters. Set aside some daily search time and gather information.

Connect with people. This is key. For example, once I started getting serious about photography, I joined the Swiss Camera Club on Facebook and went to a photo walk in Lucerne to meet other fellow photographer-wannabees. I even got a photo included in the local news coverage of the event.

Talk to your mentors, talk to friends, talk to your neighbors, talk to your delivery man – they all can offer insights and different perspectives. Then, you can prepare a 30 seconds elevator pitch outlining what you’re planning and asking for input and advice.

Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your dreams

Don’t be shy and put out feelers in your network, both in real life and on, say, LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people; most people are glad when someone is interested in their particular field and expertise and are more than happy to help.

Try it out! You can start on a small scale during your leisure time, weekends and test your approach as I did. I’ve built a website, created a professional Facebook side, joined Twitter and Instagram, all during evenings and weekends – and then started posting things, commenting on other photographer’s work in their social media, and following photographers that inspired me.

3) Prepare Financially

There’s no way around this: you need to think about money. A major career change is stressful, and financial uncertainty it’s likely to top the list.

Make an honest review of your financial situation and decide what you need to do to survive during the time your new career takes flight. Don’t assume money will come on the first day if you want to start your own company. It won’t. If you feel you don’t have the skills for this or simply want a second opinion (it’s an important decision, after all) – seek professional advice. It’s an investment well worth the money. Or ask someone you know and trust who has a successful track record in personal finance. 

Manage your debts. Ideally, you shouldn’t start your new life with debts. Clear any debts if possible or use help to create a debt management plan. For example, a mortgage is fine as long as you are confident you can keep up with the payments. Don’t take any loans, so you’d be in debt before you have even started. This brings me to …

Use free resources. Don’t invest a lot in the beginning; you can do that later when you feel confident that things are going well. There are many free options out there to get you started – you only need to do an Internet search. For instance, you can start with a free WordPress site, leverage the free themes and plugins; and look up copyright-free images and sounds. Later you can host in on your own domain if you wish, add more fancy plugins, and an online shop.

T Harv Eker quote about money

Save first, spend later. I would also recommend having a six to twelve months buffer saved. Things will happen, as things tend to do in life, and you want to be prepared when that happens. For example, say your heating system malfunctions during a frigid winter. You’d have no choice but to fix it then – you cannot wait until spring when your royalties come in. Knowing you have a buffer would alleviate the stress of the unknown.

Investigate options. Research whether there are any grants or scholarships you can seek. This way, you can get some funding without getting in debt.

Think about what you’d be gaining by earning less money. Things like more time for your family, a better work-life balance, a sense of peace, and personal fulfillment. 

4) Leverage Your Current Skills 

You may think that you’re starting from scratch in a new career. After all, you’d be doing something completely different. Right?

Wrong!

You have work experience in your current job. As a result, you can successfully apply some of the skills in your new career.

Do a skills inventory. What are you good at? What did you learn in your career? Examine your past and current roles, as well as any volunteer work. It could be communication, influencing people (all those corporate meetings selling new projects to executives, heh?), finance, marketing, or tech support. 

Say you work in marketing and want to be a photographer. You could use your marketing knowledge and experience to promote your photos. My friend’s husband, who did work in marketing, was inspired by my side photo project (at the time) and started a commercial photography business. Successfully I may add, the guy is a marketing wizard. 

I can't say it enough that learning how to learn is one of the greatest skills anyone can have. - Mark Cuban Click To Tweet

At the same time, an inventory will show you what skills you’ll have to learn. For example, maybe you’re good at designing jewelry but have no idea how to transform the raw silver into the ring or the bracelet you can see in your head or put on paper. Therefore …

Bridge the skills gap. Need a course? Search the Internet. There are plenty of free online courses, YouTube tutorials on basically everything (learning Japanese? training your dog? how to succeed in business?), and nerd blogs answering the very question you’re asking. You could also enroll in an evening course or one-day seminars or workshops.

Sign up for courses while in your current job. Communications skills, project management, or influencing without authority can be of help in any career.

5) Create a Plan 

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of what it is that you want to pursue (for the right reason), knowledge about that new field and people who can help on the journey, the financial impact, what you know, and what you don’t. 

Are we ready then?

Not quite yet. Just bear with me for a bit longer.

Now that you have gathered the information, you need to create a plan. This will be your roadmap for the journey in front of you, the beacon of light guiding you along the way.

David Allen quote: Your head's for having ideas, not for holding them.

Make it a written planYour head’s for having ideas, not for holding them as “Get Things Done” David Allen puts it. Do you need any new skills (identified above)? Then plan for learning as well. Having a written plan makes it more real, reminds you of your commitment, and helps you track progress. 

Involve your inner circle. You may want to involve your partner, close family, and maybe a few trusted friends as this will likely impact them too. Listen to them and consider their input. But in the end, follow your gut. Don’t let others dictate your way.

6) Keep the Door Open

Don’t burn your bridges. Leave your job graciously. Hand over your responsibilities and train your replacement as you wish someone else would do it for you were the roles reversed. It’s tempting to focus on your new career and do the bare minimum before leaving. In two words: Don’t! It’s simple courtesy, and it costs nothing. Even more so if you’re not parting ways amicably, be the bigger man (or woman). You never know what happens, and you may need a way back. This is why you should …

Have a backup plan. Many people don’t want to think about failure, so they start the journey into the unknown with no plan in case things go south. Don’t do this! You know how they say, “Better safe than sorry.” It’s likely not what you want to think about, but it’s an easy investment in your future self. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’d go back to your old job, but for instance, you could come back as a part-time consultant to wait out the bad times. In the same spirit, keep up to date on what happens in your old field, renew certifications if needed, and so on.

You just need a good plan and then a backup plan! -  Katherine Kelly Click To Tweet

Stay in touch. In all that excitement and thrill often brought by new beginnings, you may forget to keep the connection to your old world alive. Your former colleagues or business partners may not necessarily be part of your everyday now, but they can be your ambassadors or mentors. They can testify about your skills and provide introductions or advice. You could invite people for lunch, congratulate them on an anniversary or promotion, and send them tips about things you know they’re interested in (send me any good tips on how to get rid of snails in the garden, and I’ll be your friend for life!). Do this regularly, and not only when you need something – people see through that. 

Nurture your network today and it'll be there tomorrow when you need it.

Be present. Maintain a presence and be active on professional networks, e.g., LinkedIn, by appreciating and commenting on your connections’ activities and sharing articles on topics of general interest such as time management or creativity. Make it easy for people to remember you. For example, say that one of your former colleague’s cousins works at a fashion magazine, and she is looking for some hobo jewelry for a fashion feature photo shot. Your colleague now remembers that you left to start your own jewelry business; s/he’ll pass on your name to his/her cousin. It may or may not work out in the end, but it’s the first step. Maybe your jewelry is not hobo enough for this shoot, but s/he may like it and reach out to you in the future.

7) Have Faith in Yourself

Embrace your fear. All beginnings are a thrilling mix of excitement and fear, like a rollercoaster ride. Don’t let that fear overwhelm you. You know you are doing the right thing. Trust. Have faith. True success is being afraid and still doing it anyway. It’s OK to feel fear; I would be concerned if you didn’t. But don’t let that fear stand in your way. Acknowledge it (I am afraid of this unknown), look at it objectively (it’s normal to be afraid when you’re doing something new), and then act.

The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: Overcome fear, behold wonder. -  Richard Bach Click To Tweet

Feel the love. Know that you are never alone. There’s always help when you need it – but only if you ask for it.  Reach out to people in real life and online; ask questions when you don’t know how to do something, or things go wrong, and you need a solution. Talk it over with a friend. Reach out to formal support groups or organizations. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Marcus Aurelius quote: Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.

Overcome the biggest obstacle. You. Very often, we are our own saboteurs. We compare ourselves to others, and not in our favor. We measure ourselves and find ourselves lacking. We don’t believe we have anything to contribute. We don’t believe we have what it takes to succeed. We find ourselves incapable of acting, frozen like reindeer in the headlights.

So … I’m giving you a push. Don’t just read this article; act on it. Now. Good luck!


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Happy World Photography Day!

Photography of pink bleeding hearts by Mihaela Limberea

August 19th is World Photography Day, an annual celebration of art, science, and history of photography.

Why August 19th, you ask? On August 19th, 1839, the French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype process, the first to obtain a permanent image with a camera. History was made that day, and the long road to photography as we know it today began.

The best way of celebrating it is to share your best photos with the world. The one above is one of my favorites, a close-up of a pink bleeding heart in my garden.

Happy World Photography Day!


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Writing Is a Job

Writing is a job-text on the background of a notebook.

Writing a book sounds romantic, gazing over the roofs of Paris in a chilly attic room, slowly sipping hot black coffee. Fluttering curtains in the golden sunset. Sometimes it can even be that. 

But writing is, above all, a job. It’s work and routine. Toil and exhaustion. 

You have to go to work like everybody else and do the time on the chair. It means having a set time and place – be it a home office, a café, or the kitchen table. So you put on your working clothes, sit down at the set time, and start writing. No exceptions, no excuses, just doing. Every day.

Sometimes the words will flow, pouring of you so quickly you can hardly keep up typing, the pages filling effortlessly. You’re a gift to the world. Working is easy and pleasurable, and you can keep at it for hours.

Other times, you stare at the blank page and can hardly resist the urge to run. You write a few words, decide they’re lousy, and delete them. You start again. How could you ever think you could write?


Time drags on. Lunch cannot come soon enough. Or any interruption, really. You’re almost glad if something breaks. Then, suddenly, you’re happy calling the plumber or the electrician for an emergency repair. Or grateful if the delivery man seems to have time for a chat. Anything to avoid looking at that blank page, the blinking cursor a silent countdown to an inexorable deadline.

But you keep at it, how uncomfortable you may be. You’ve learned discipline. You’ve learned that if you sit there long enough, something will happen. An idea, even a kernel of an idea, will appear, seemingly out of thin air. An image that triggers long-gone memories. Scenes from a distant past or a shimmering future. And you’re in again. In the zone where fantastic things happen and writing is easy.

If you’re not able to write, write about not being able to write. For a writer, everything is writing material. Even not being able to write.

Like this text.


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How To See the World Like an Artist

Lines. Black and white abstract photo by Mihaela Limberea.

”Seeing,” really seeing what you’re looking at, is an essential skill for a photographer. For any visual artist, in fact. Some people may have been born with it, while some may struggle. No fancy equipment can compensate for its lack, though. The good news is that you can learn to, as any art student can tell you.

And this is not something you’d turn on and off; it’ll change the way you look and see the world. For example, the black & white abstract photo above …

… was converted from this.

It’s part of a terrace roof in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Marrakech. As soon as I stepped out on the terrace and saw this pergola, I knew it would make a perfect abstract photograph. It was just a question of trying various compositions and angles until getting that ultimate photo that all photographs dream about when they press the shutter button.


How To See the World as an Artist

Simply put: practice, practice, practice. A few tips:

  • Similar to beginners, when learning how to draw, you need to let go of identifying various objects (a chair, a vase, a hat) and see the shapes, lines, and contours that make up those things instead.
  • Notice the play of shadows and light, the contrast, the textures, the colors, and the patterns they create. How complementary colors work well together, such as orange and blue, or red and green.
  • Look at things from a different perspective: taking a photo from a low angle can show the world as seen by a small animal or a child, or turn a flower into a towering tree.
  • Look at the works of established photographers and painters and analyze what you see. What makes that artwork good? What did the artist do? How? Visiting museums is a good start, and nowadays, you can do that online too (a good thing in pandemic times).
  • Practice, practice, practice. And practice some more. Learning any craft requires effort, perseverance, and dedication.

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To read more on photography, click here. Artsy has a good article on how to learn to see the world as an artist here.


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Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
Close up of apple tree flowers. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully out of Nowhere) arranging 
 a window, into which people look (while 
people stare 
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here) and 
 
changing everything carefully 
 
spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things, while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there) and 
without breaking anything.

By e. e. cummings (1894 – 1962), American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright.


To read more poems, click here.



I Shall Be Content with Silence

Close up of a Japanese anemone. Black and white photograph by Mihaela Limberea.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West.


To read more quotes, click here. To read more on photography, click here.



Writing Is an Exercise in Humility

An Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) Photograph by Mihaela Limberea, in tones of green, lavender and orange
Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)* photograph of one of my flowers beds.

One thing anybody could tell you about me is my patience. Or lack of it. It’s a paradox, really. While I can be still for hours when stalking birds to take photos, for instance, most of the time, I have no patience. None. I’m the kid who ate the marshmallow immediately (and went looking for another one in the corridor; no nice waiting for me!).

Gardening has been a lesson in humility for me. It simply takes time for plants to grow, and a fully grown garden takes several years. Even then, it does take time for flowers to bloom or for butterflies to appear in the spring. By creating and tending a garden, you learn patience along the way.

After creating my first garden in Sweden, tending to another in Switzerland, and then creating a new one when back in Sweden again, I thought I’d mastered patience. 

Ha! So easily fooled we are! Especially by ourselves. 


Writing a book takes a lot of patience. Sitting at your desk day after day after day, toiling away a page at a time, with no end in sight. 

One day you think you’ve made good progress; you only have to keep going, and you’ll get there. The next day, nothing works. You write 500 words and delete 400. You start doubting yourself. Do you really have what it takes? Patience and perseverance to sit there every day and build a cathedral by yourself, one brick at a time? To compare the wondrous vision of the building in your head and the lone low wall in front of you that you managed to erect so far?

Someone said that the only thing you need to write is a good chair. That’s a good point. You’ll need a good chair because you’re going to spend a lot of time in it. Sometimes writing, more often staring in space or scouring the internet for the best slug repellent (true story!).

I killed off all distractions on my computer, turned off e-mail and notifications, deleted games, and so on. Closed all programs, except for Scrivener (going off-road now, I know, but if you need anything to write, in addition to the said chair, you’d also need Scrivener, believe me! the best writing software, ever). And the internet browser. 

It’s a risk, I know. An internet connection while writing it’s an open invitation, a free-for-all buffet of distractions. 

I decided to take the risk. Looking up synonyms or the name of a bird I can’t bring to mind is worth it. Worse case, I’ll know more about the mating rituals of penguins or find the best slug repellent (I tend to be practical in my distractions; wasting time, yes, but at least I’ve got something for it).


So, I sit on the chair and stare at the Scrivener binder. Every morning. I try not to think about the number of days required to write a whole book. I try to have faith that if I show up every day, do the work, do the best I can, I’ll produce a book in the end. And maybe learn some patience on the way.

Writing is an exercise in humility. Day after day after day. Brick after brick after brick.

If you’ll excuse me, I have more bricks to lay now. Rome hasn’t been built in one day, and so on. Ta!


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  • If you’re interested in ICM photography, here’s a good guide.

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The Old Pond

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
The Old Pond, with a close up of a pink water lily. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The old pond: 
A frog jumps in,— 
The sound of the water.

by Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



If One Wants To Be Active, One Mustn’t Be Afraid To Do Something Wrong Sometimes

Close up of a sunflower against a sky background. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

I tell you, if one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie, and you said yourself in the past that it was a lie. That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity…

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter, “You can’t do anything.” The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “You can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas. But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something…

Vincent van Gogh, from Ever Yours: The Essential Letters


To read more quotes, click here.