A note to the girl I was

It’s midnight as I sit at my computer and stare in puzzlement at the book on my desk. Earlier today I had pulled a book from my shelves, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It is a book that, in my mind, I started working with about a year ago. One that got shelved because I was “so busy.” I just had a discussion about that book a few days ago, and so I thought it would be a good idea to start it again. Inside that book is a piece of paper that I had done a writing exercise on, and it is dated. December 16, 2010. I couldn’t believe my eyes; how could I have put this away so long ago? The purchase of this book, this piece of writing that I had done, was almost five years ago. Before my divorce, before I had yet to find the strength to utter those words. When I read what I wrote, I was at first embarrassed; I almost tore my pages and put them in recycling.

More than that, I felt so sad for the person who wrote those lines, the girl who had no idea the strength that was brewing inside. So instead, I wrote back to her. I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I was. If ever I thought that I hadn’t changed very much in the past five-years, here is my proof of where I had come from, and who I have discovered along the way.

I am unsure of who I am.

I am torn between who I am and
who I want to be.

I try to be a
kind, calm, gracious
and accepting person,

yet I feel inside like
a cold woman who
can’t let go, takes
things too seriously,
and remembers events
much like a bitter
elephant.

How can I be one
without losing the
other?

The person I want
to be sometimes
makes me feel weak,
like a timid girl.

Yet who i am is
killing my soul.

Can I be one without
losing the other?

Do I dare choose?

-AER, 12/16/10
After reading this I felt suddenly like my life’s timeline was linear, as if the past was still alive, as well as the present and future. I wanted to reach out and embrace the girl who was me. I replied:

It’s okay.
I am right here.

You were always
who you wanted to be,
you were only scared.

You are a kind, calm,
gracious and accepting person.

You were not a cold woman.
You were abused, tired,
lonely, and scared.
You were lost, but finding
your way.

You didn’t have to lose yourself,
you were there all along.

Who you wanted to be,
who you are,
is strength, is beauty,
is courageous. You see these
things everywhere, feel them,
wear them like a
comfortable old hat.

Your soul is happy,
because you have grown.

You didn’t lose who you
were, you healed her.

Welcome home.

-AES, 6/24/15

 

Once upon a time, I thought I was broken. I can thank at least a dozen people who lent a hand in piecing me back together, but at this hour, alone with my soft music and honey-almond incense, I bow my head to the person who wrote those sad, lonely words so many years ago. I thank her for not giving up.

Namaste. -Amy

© Amy Sampson 2015

Find your passion, ignore the fear

What is your passion? What lights you on fire, revs your engine, or gives you that profound feeling of peace? Do you even know what it is? Do you follow it?

What is it about following our passion that is so frightening?

Everyone has a passion, something that sparks that light within them that is seen by everyone who knows how to recognize it. It’s a musician that gets lost in the song, a pilot who truly feels alive when above the clouds, a runner who feels euphoric after mile five.

Not everyone, however, pursues their passion. Why? So often, daily life gets in the way. Or fear. Or fear of messing with the routine that we have so carefully put into place, the routine that keeps our walls around us, protects of from the winds that can destroy our house of cards.

My passion? The one thing that has made my soul happy since I was a kid? Writing. My goal in life? To be a famous author. The number of books I have written? A handful of short stores, a few hundred poems, three children’s stories, and one non-fiction in the works. Not one full-length, publishable book that would make me a famous or even not-very-famous author. Everyday for the past handful of years, even before my daughter was born, I told myself that it was something I would do tomorrow. I have put my passion, my light, on hold for WAY too long, all for some day-to-day nonsense that I just couldn’t break away from.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If we are on earth in this physical form to learn a lesson, to become better people, why do we deny ourselves the basic freedom to do what makes us happy? Yes, I know that we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed, but it’s deeper than that. If I can find the time to check Facebook and read a book, I can find the time to write. And that goes for all of us; following our passion does not mean we have to quit our jobs and leave our families destitute. It means making the time to find what makes us happy, and doing it.

To deny yourself the right to follow your passion is bad, but there is something worse. And that is stopping someone else from following theirs. I see it all the time, and it is almost always fear based. If someone you love, someone you count on suddenly gets happiness and fulfilment from something else, that seems terrifying. What is more terrifying though is to stand in the way, either directly or indirectly, of another human beings path in life. People were born with desires and talents for a reason, and it’s up to them to figure out what that reason is. If we stand in their way for our own benefit, no matter how well-meaning or innocent our reasons, we are stunting the growth of another’s soul.

We have to let go of that fear. We all know that control is an illusion but we struggle to accept that. I struggle with that fear, and because of past experiences, I have a very difficult time of anything that I see as changing my personal universe. I want those that I love to grow and do anything that makes them happy. And at the very same time, I am so scared that they may find happiness outside of me.

This past weekend I went to a party at my friends house, and his band played. It’s band that was put together thanks to internet connections, and all of the members have regular jobs and families, yet they get together to share in their love of music. And when I sat and watched my friend, singing his heart out, I could see that light in him. It’s a light that I haven’t seen in a while, and there it was, lighting up the night as the sun went down. My heart was, simply, happy.  In that moment, my fear was lifted.

I will continue to follow my passion, and I will support those I love in following theirs. Because once you see that light in another, you recognize it in yourself. You see it all around you, it is something to be nourished and respected. It’s the only way.

What is your passion? What lights up the part of you that makes you feel alive, that makes your heart happy and your soul feel alive? Do it.

Namaste. -Amy Sampson

© 2015 Amy Sampson

 

My work in progress – Chapter One

butterfly

 

Chapter One – The Climb

By Amy Sampson

 

I am lying at the bottom of a well, void of water but still damp. Although I can see light at the opening, none shines to where I lay. On a good day, I can pull myself to a sitting position and lean my back against the stone wall. A gentle trickle of dampness soaks my shirt, but I don’t care to move. Most days, I lie on the bottom, looking at the light but never seeing. No one comes for me. I can hear their voices, but I know that they don’t even know I am here.

I have heard people say that when they are sad or depressed, they feel nothing. That’s not the case in my well. In my well, I feel an oppressing sadness, a weight that pushes me down and holds me there. So even if there is a reason to hope for a way out, I’m being held down.

Sometime over the last couple of years, I have decided to fight my way out. I got tired of driving past a body of water only to imagine what it would be like to drive my car into the thin ice covering. To let the water flood in through the cracks and seal out the oxygen I needed to think. I was sick of looking for a way to dim the ache, of looking for a way out but not seeing the rope that could save me. I was not suicidal. I never thought “I should drive into the lake and let myself die.” The thought wasn’t there, just the imagery. I wasn’t suicidal, although I knew if I ever told anyone how I felt they would label me so. I would not have left my daughter and my family, and I have a strong belief that those who commit suicide are really committing themselves to the agony of witnessing what your destruction does once you are gone.

I was not suicidal, but I was killing my spirit. I let myself live for my daughter, and to make others happy. The fantasies I had of escaping my life were just that, but it was enough to keep me there, on the bottom, for so long. My internal fight or flight battle was deeply ingrained in my soul. Not changing your circumstance is a choice, and it is one that I subconsciously made because I was too afraid see any other option, and I was literally frozen.

One day, I opened my eyes, took a good look at my reality, grabbed onto one of the slick moss covered rocks that was my prison, and started the long climb out of the well. I pushed aside the heaviness that was in my heart and slowly, painfully climbed stone by stone, until I reached the top. There was no one to cheer me on when I finally pulled myself, wet and tired and gasping for air, out of the well because no one knew I was there to begin with.

And while I may sit on the stone that surrounds my well from time to time, I will not fall back in.

On my journey, which took years by the way, my outside world changed immensely. I left my husband. I let myself give and receive the gifts of Reiki and acupressure, each saving me in their own way and showing me that helping others is extremely healing. I fell in love, and remain in love, with my true soul mate. I still get sad, I still feel the heaviness creeping in. But with the love I allow myself to feel and my knowledge that the universe does not want to knock me back down, I remain on solid ground.

This is my story. I can’t tell you how I got myself into my well, how I allowed myself to get so lost that I ceased thinking I was important enough to be saved. I can’t tell you because it doesn’t matter; we have all been there. Whether you had a long and painful descent to the bottom or one day found that life pulled the rug from under you and you went down, we have all had a form of debilitating sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness. Many of us have found ourselves looking down the barrel of a gun or the bottom of a bottle, or perhaps gazed up into the sky wondering, “what’s this all for, anyway?” Or thought, as I have so many times, that we were stuck with no way out.

I can promise you this: You are not stuck. Every single one of us has the ability to change our lives, learn from whatever personal horrors we have lived with, and see the light. For every action, for every thought, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every darkness, there is a light. For everything that you see as ugly, there is beauty. And for every lie, there is a truth. The shift has to come from within in order to see it.

You are not alone. I know how hard it is to believe that to be true. I have been in a room full of people, smiling, talking, kissing hello, and felt loneliness so deep my bones hurt. And I can promise you, the person that you are searching for to make that loneliness go away is waiting to be discovered within yourself. We all have an immense power. We are alive, we are breathing and our hearts are beating, we experience happiness and sadness, love and fear. That, my friend, is a miracle. Life is not science. Life is a gift. And if you take my hand and share in my journey, I will help you to discover the gift that is within you.

© 2015 Amy Sampson

It’s not about the pain – it’s about the push

avonwalk2015
   This past weekend, I took a pretty long walk. I didn’t have to use my pedometer or my calorie tracker to tell me how far I went; my legs and feet, back and shoulders, and even my hair could tell a story of each step. I was lucky enough to participate in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk; a 39-mile, two-day walk that my team – Team Mount Peter – walks in every year or so. We walk a different city each time we participate in the event, and although it’s difficult and we all swear we will never do it again, we keep coming back for more.

When someone says they are going to walk 26 miles in one day, it doesn’t seem so bad. But by mile 9 or so, reality stomps on our toes and locks up our muscles. It’s more than eight hours of continuos walking at a 3.3 mph pace. It’s blisters and muscle cramps, sweat and tears. It’s every inch of your body screaming to stop, to sit down. Even your hair follicles protest.

It’s my job as Team Captain to keep up the motivation. To pick one of my friends up when they have fallen off the curb. To let them pick me up when I am frozen in a stretch position, gazing at the bus that could carry us the rest of the way like it was a my ride to heaven. Here is what keeps me motivated: I have two perfectly healthy legs, my cells are healthy and I have no disease that weighs me down. I walk because there are so many that cannot. Because there are so many that have done so much more, and for me to stop walking because I am in pain does not honor them. I think of people being marched to concentration camps and know that my walk contains none of these horrors. I think of soldiers marching onto the battlefield and know that my walk is safe. I think of what the women of our country once went through so that I had the right to walk where I want, say what I want, and talk to whom I want. I push myself to honor the people before me that fought so hard, and suffered so many horrors. I walk for the future, yes. But I also walk for my present. I walk to feel just a tiny piece, so small it would barely cause a ripple in a still water, of what those before me have felt. Of what those battling a terrible disease today are going through. Of what our soldiers are still facing.

This past weekend, at our 13-mile mark as we sat down in the grass with our brown bagged lunch, I was hurting. I was gazing at that bus with a little extra longing in my eyes. My sister – who has been on every walk with me, right by my side – asked, “what are you going to do?” She asked, but she knew the answer. “I’m going to walk until I can’t take another step,” I answered. And so we did.

We all have to push ourselves from time to time. It doesn’t have to be my way, but in some way that is special to you. It’s how we keep moving forward.

Namaste. -Amy

girl power

Stop and see the beauty

tulipHow often do you get so wrapped up with the chatter in your head that you don’t see the beauty that is all around you? This used to happen to me all the time – some thought would take hold of me and make me a prisoner, making me blind to the beauty of life, putting a hazy outline on even the sunniest of days. Thoughts can become pretty scary – something as simple as someone you love saying the “wrong” thing can snowball into our minds making assumptions that are not real, and one thought turns into another, worse thought, and so on. Before we know it, we are having an internal argument with someone who had the misfortune to not say what it is we wanted to hear.

The only difference between myself a few years ago and myself today is that now I am aware when this is happening to me. I know when my runaway thoughts are becoming runaway trains, and I know that the haze that surrounds me can turn pretty dark if I don’t stop it. Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” And it’s true – most of what we worry about will never happen, and if it does, we deal with it.

Sometimes just the awareness that we are stuck in this loop is enough to make it stop. Now when I feel myself getting upset over a runaway thought, I say to myself (sometimes out-loud), “STOP it, it’s not real,” and I clear that energy away from my body and feel myself go back to normal. I have found that taking pictures will help me to see the beauty around me, because in putting the camera in focus, I put myself in focus as well.

Take a moment and look around you. If you are inside go outside or look out a window – there is beauty everywhere. A spring flower, a child laughing, the smile of a stranger. One of the first steps I had to make when I realized I had some pretty big life changes to make was learning not just how to see the beauty around me, but to notice it for long enough to change my thinking. It’s more than smelling the flowers, it’s touching the petals, seeing the miracle in one tiny flower growing through a patch of concrete, and letting your mind relax.

Change is coming. The way we see the world and our place in it will bring nothing but clarity. But before we can do that, before we can get down to truly feeling peace inside our hearts, we have to relax our minds. We have to let go of the distracting thoughts we cling to. And we have to do it every day, until we begin to see more beauty, and less darkness.

I’d love to hear where you find beauty. Namaste. -Amy

© 2015 Amy Sampson

My intention

A funny thing about stating your intention is first figuring out what that is. I have started so many tasks – be it at work, at home, or even making a life change – without really defining what my intention is. My success rate when this happens is generally, I don’t know, 2 percent. If we don’t know what the purpose or goal is in what we decide to do with our time, how do we know when we have accomplished our mission? Or how do we really know where to start?

My intention with this site is to have a conversation about how we can escape the pressures that ourselves and others put on us to be someone who we are really not comfortable being; who we were not meant to be. Others may try to put us in a box, but it’s really ourselves who takes out the packing tape, seals the top and sides, and smacks a “do not open” sticker on top.

I have opened my box, peeled back my sticker, and started a whole whirlwind of trouble! But as the dust settles, I find I can see so much more clearly. And do you know what is funny? I have spent so long trying to be the person that I thought others wanted me to be that I didn’t realize I was already the person who I was inside. You can’t hide who you are. Just ask my sister – she knew I was “weird” and a bit unconventional all the time I thought I was nodding politely and saying all the right things. The difference is that now I can own who I am, be who and what I want to be, and jump out of my box like a stripper in a birthday cake. Because the truth is that everyone else wants to break free as well, and the ones that are giving you a hard time are the ones that are having a hard time themselves.

So this is my goal. I have my beliefs but I can’t say for sure if we have this one life, or a million and one lives, but while we are here we need to be true to who we are. I want people to wake up from bad relationships, stick up for themselves, and be authentically honest about where they are, and where they are going. We all have the power to give someone else permission to treat us badly, and we all have the power to make them stop. My intention is simply to help you see that.

About a year ago I started writing a book about pulling myself from a depressed state without the help of medication (disclaimer – I am NOT saying people with a true imbalance or having psychological trouble should not be on medication. I’m simply saying it wasn’t for me), and how modalities such as acupressure and Reiki have saved me. I will share some of that on this site, in the hopes to help the conversation to begin.

Thank you for reading.

Amy

Something I have realized about myself while writing about my journey: I love metaphors. I’m stuck in a well (of sadness), I put myself into a box (of where I fit in society); I’m sure it will go on. I am also a little sarcastic and I am a great lover of all things punny. I’m not sorry – it’s who I am 🙂