The Daily Grounding Practice You May be Missing

This post was originally published by Wellness Universe, June 2017

 

It’s funny to write the word grounding.

Even though I am in my forties, when I hear the term “grounding,” the child in me thinks of being sent to my room. But the two meanings aren’t really that different. When a kid gets grounded, it’s to re-set them, in a way. And that’s exactly what my definition of grounding has to do with – a re-set, a centering, and a chance to take a few moments to get steadier in yourself.

I clearly remember what life was like before I was introduced to this concept. Before I was ever told to feel my feet on the floor, I lived completely in my mind. I took some advice I didn’t always need, I would follow my friends on whatever journey they wanted to go on, never considering what it was that I wanted to do. Decisions were made on a whim, or maybe not at all. I was too emotional, taking everything that happened around me personally, living on the highs and lows of random thoughts. I was not in control of my emotions at all, and I let other people define my self-worth.

And then I learned what it meant to be grounded. When you are grounded, you become aware. You live more in the moment and less in your own head. You can still have a sudden rush of emotions, but you are aware that they may not be real, or correct. The Merriam-Webster definition of grounded is: “Mentally and emotionally stable. Admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious. Used to describe a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life.”

I first learned about being grounded when I was learning energy work; acupressure and Reiki. You cannot work on someone energetically or spiritually and not practice grounding yourself. You would be swept away, taking on the emotional and even physical symptoms of those you are working with. But it’s for more than just energy workers, it’s for everyone. Every person should take a few minutes, every single day, to center themselves, to just sit quietly with themselves and affirm who they are.

There are many ways to ground yourself. Many people work with the chakras and clear them each day. Others do it on a spiritual level. To some, it may look like a daily pep talk. Do whatever works for you, as long as you do it.

My grounding looks like this, and it’s so very simple. I stand in a quiet room – sometimes I shut my eyes and sometimes I look directly into my eyes in a mirror.

My shoes are off and my feet are firmly planted on the floor. I bring my hands to a prayer position and engage my muscles. I do this to feel that I am a solid being, that I am present. It’s very important to feel your feet on the ground. When I am feeling like I really need it, I will take my shoes and socks off and do this outside, really feel the earth beneath my feet. And then I say something to myself, usually a variation of, “you are here, you are safe, you are home.”

By home, I do not mean that I am in my house, I mean that my body is my home, and as long as I remember that, I am okay. I do this while at a concert, where I feel the energy of a few thousand people and start to get that light-headed feeling. I plant my feet on the floor and say, “it’s ok, you are home.” I do this while I am traveling or in a large group of people.

Because I am not perfect or especially disciplined, I sometimes get busy and either forget to do this or just don’t want to take the precious minute to stop what I am doing. I may have to get to work, my daughter is late for school, or the scent of freshly percolated coffee pulls me away. Whatever it is, my practice gets lost. And after a while, I can always tell that something is very off. I start to overreact, or overthink everything I do. I get caught up in the moment rather than be present in that moment. This will go on, until I finally stop and say to myself, “feel your feet,” and the moment my attention goes to the sole of my feet, pressed firmly into the ground, I feel better.

Try it. Sit or stand with your feet firmly on the ground, lengthen your spine, close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, in and out. I always take my focused breaths in three’s, to signify the mind, body, and spirit. Put your hands in a prayer position, on your lap, or by your side; whatever feels right for you. And say to yourself, “You are here. You are safe. You are home.”

Take a moment to bring your attention back to yourself. The world will not stop because your thoughts are on you for a few moments. Pay attention to your body, because now is when it will tell you if something is not right. Let your inner guide lead you through the next few breaths, and listen to what your heart wants. With practice, you will lengthen these moments of internal attention, and you will begin to trust yourself more deeply.

By taking the time to purposely be with yourself, by getting grounded, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to be in charge of your mind, which puts you in charge of your life.

Namaste.

-Amy

© 2017 Amy Sampson-Cutler


Don’t be 56 at 40 – get out and play!

Flexing on the mountain

Flexing on the mountain

Don’t be 56 at 40 – get out and play!

By Amy Sampson

Welcome to winter! Well it’s not winter yet, but as time seems to travel pretty quickly these days, it will be winter before we know it. It seems that every season brings life lessons to me, and like them or not, I have started to listen. As summer turns to fall I find myself daydreaming of snow in my yard and on the mountain. When I first leave my house in the morning and I get that blast of chill in the air and breathe in the fall scents, I know that winter is around the corner and just the thought of that makes my heart hammer a bit harder. I cannot wait for the hum of the snow guns and the activity that it brings.

This summer has been all about getting rid of the old and embracing the new. That meant a lot of decluttering for me in my home (my office, well, that’s a different story). I have been cleaning and clearing my way through the warm months. I learned along the way that doing so made me feel lighter, but I was still missing an important component. I wasn’t decluttering my body, which tends to hold onto more “junk” than my whole house!

Our houses hold onto things we don’t need, and our bodies hold onto emotions that no longer serve us. And for a lot of us, that means our health suffers. So I began to watch what I ate and exercise. And surprise – wouldn’t you know, I became friends with my scale again. But losing a few pounds wasn’t enough, I wanted to feel stronger, and be healthier. I want to be ready for the winter season, and when our long hours start I don’t want to be exhausted. Most importantly, when I put on my ski boots for the first time of the 2016-2017 season, I want to do so without cursing my legs. When I spend my first hours on the mountain, I want to feel exhilarated in the cold air and not moaning over my tired muscles.

After working out for a few weeks on my own, I bought a really fancy scale that tells me things like my BMI, muscle mass, and body age. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I turned 40 last year, but I was horrified when my scale told me that my body age is 56. Fifty-six! No wonder why I limp for the first few steps after I get up at my desk. Now my focus wasn’t so much getting ready for my skis but trying to delay joining AARP.

I started going to the gym in town, Anytime Fitness. I had actually been a paying member for five months before I finally walked through their doors. It’s only been a few weeks but I am probably overly thrilled with my new arm muscles. I am a bit obsessed. Sometimes I go to the gym at 6 a.m. and then go back again with my daughter after school. It’s awesome – and I know that once winter starts, I will be at my best forty-year-old self.

I encourage all of our skiers and riders (and our tubers, as well!) to make the time this fall to get a little healthier. Not only so that when you take those first runs on your skis or snowboards you don’t want to lay down in Pete’s Place, but also because our true age should be our actual age. A lot of our skiers and riders are athletes who train all year, and many more are hikers, bikers, and mountain climbers. I have much respect for those of you reading this who are wondering why I didn’t care about my health more all along. But I also have a tremendous respect for our skiers and riders who struggle with the decision to get outside and hit the slopes when being active like that is not second-nature. I know that I did not make the decision to be less-active than I was while growing up, it is just something that happens. But I did make the decision to do something about it, and I hope you’ll join me. Whether you’re a health nut, a couch potato, or somewhere in between, let’s all do something today that will prepare our bodies for winter. And I don’t mean buying a new jacket – I mean pushing ourselves a little harder.

Now all I need is to convince the gym to put some ski and snowboarding movies on the TV’s. Maybe The Art of Flight or The Many Moods of Skiing, or even Hotdog. Anything to keep me looking forward to slipping gracefully into my ski boots and carving some turns.

See you on the slopes – I’ll be the one flexing at the top!

-Amy

 

© 2016 Amy Sampson

I am not lost, I am living

Life is beautiful – Photo by Amy Sampson

 

 

I am not lost, I am living
By Amy Sampson

I have had a heck of a year. It started out great, I had accomplished so much on my checklist of life.

Be in a happy and healthy relationship – check

Open an office to practice Reiki and acupressure – check

Start a yoga practice and develop healthy habits – check

Open up to new experiences that will lead to a better understanding of why we are all here – check

Begin to write a book that will help others – check

See the beauty in daily life – check

When my New Year rolled around, I was doing great, a little bubble of happiness surrounding my aura. Peaceful, ready to face anything. I had already made great strides, choosing happiness over the safety of a monotonous life.

And then, my happy bubble sprung a leak. It didn’t burst, it took on a slow deflation. You see, my family operates a ski area in New York State. At the bottom of the state, so close to New Jersey that I go there for gas. And we all know what winter was like in our corner of the state. Oh did I say winter? It was more of an extended fall rolling right into spring. We came out ok, making snow whenever possible and working like crazy to keep customers happy, but by the end of March I felt like I had been hit by a truck. A big truck, with lots of big tires and one exhaust pipe too many.

During the months of winter, I saw the dark side of “the public,” and it took a huge personal toll on me. I am very sensitive to the energies around me, and in the course of studying energy healing I have learned to block much of what I used to absorb. But once exhaustion set in I lost all of my tricks. There was no daily practice of getting grounded, there was no white light, and there was no sage or crystals or meditation. I felt defenseless, like I was stepping into work every day completely nude.

In my private life, my ex father-in-law and future mother-in-law passed away within weeks of one another. With my daughter’s tears still echoing in my heart from the loss of her grandpa, I felt the energy shift of my fiancés mom as we lost her, and the acupressure and Reiki sessions I gave her in the hospital turned out to be the last sessions I would give for some time.

By April, I felt disjointed. I was not connected with my work – not with the ski area, and certainly not with Reiki and acupressure. I didn’t feel that I was in a place where I could help anyone, not because I didn’t want to help but because I was hurt by the way I saw people treat each other. Where I used to look at these situations as an opportunity to learn or make things better, I was feeling agitated and disappointed. My reactions weren’t as soft as they had been. People that know me well started to ask, “where did Amy go?”

My sense of humor has always been dry and sarcastic, but it took on a bit of cold-heartedness as well. The current events of the world settled on my heart. I abandoned my book and went months with no yoga practice. I closed the Reiki and acupressure office that has brought me so much peace because I just couldn’t do the work. I was hugely disappointed in myself, because I thought I had become immune to such personal feelings. I had lost my way.

Luckily, time – nature’s true healer – keeps ticking and the pages on the calendar kept turning. I have discovered the power of decluttering and find a very unlikely solace in cleaning. I am letting go of the need to hold onto “things,” because I see that letting go is the way to move forward. I have a sudden need for open space, both physically and in my heart.

There have been other times when I have felt lost, and it always turns out I wasn’t necessarily lost but finding a new direction. This time, it feels as if I have stepped out of line for a bit, perhaps just watching to see what’s going to happen next. I have found some of my peace again, but I am a bit more cautious about it. If I am going to have a bubble around me, I think it could use a little less cheer and a bit more strength.

What I realize is this: I am not lost, I am living. Just because I thought I had evolved doesn’t mean life didn’t have more lessons to teach me. And just because I don’t know my next step, or where my path is headed, doesn’t mean I’m not already walking it. None of us are alone on this journey. Sometimes we just need to step away to come back stronger.

Namaste. – Amy.

 

© 2016 Amy Sampson

Reiki I for Kids Class

reikipic

Reiki I for Kids

Reiki, which means “universal life energy,” is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing. Reiki is a safe and natural method that can assist physical, emotional and spiritual healing. It promotes self-awareness and self-empowerment, and teaches loves, kindness and compassion. Reiki is a form of therapy that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and visualization techniques, with the goal of improving the flow of life energy in a person.

Children that practice Reiki can benefit from being able to assist their bodies in healing after illness, and after emotional or physical trauma (such as an argument, loss of a loved one, or an accident). It can also help children with symptoms such as ADD or ADHD to learn to focus and calm their minds. Practicing Reiki can also relieve stress, and in turn, protect our bodies from becoming run-down and sick.

All participants will learn how to do Reiki on themselves, others, and animals, as well as learn the origin of Reiki, learn about the chakra system, hand placement, and receive handouts, practice time, a Level 1 Attunement and Level 1 Certification. Participants will also learn tools to help them ground themselves and thus control reactions and deal with stress and receive a special gift of a crystal attuned for grounding purposes.

This class is for children ages 10-14. The cost is $75 and class will be held over two days, May 14 and 15, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Class size is limited. If the dates do not work or if children under 10 or over 14 would like to learn Reiki please let me know and an additional class will be considered.

Please call to reserve, 845-629-6782 or email me at themindbodysoulconnection@hotmail.com.

Classes will be held at Mount Peter in Warwick, NY and taught by Amy Sampson.

 

About me: I am a certified practitioner of the IGM Method of Intentional Wellness, and a Reiki Master. Visit me at themindbodysoulconnection.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Breath – sometimes we need to talk about the storm to make it to the sunshine

 

Last Breath

Looking over her shoulder, Susan could see only a mixture of hazed images. The trees far above the rooftop, bending from the weight of the snow that had been falling for days. The lights of the city, far off in the distance, glorified the simplicity of an act she knew she must do. Where she was, she thought nothing could hurt her.

Susan could think of nothing else, except how peaceful it felt to be alone, where no one would be able to find her, where she could only hear the muffled sounds of her parents inside her house, forever screaming at each other.

She was sitting now, legs dangling in the air. Susan studied them for a while, laughing pure joy as she allowed the snow to accumulate on her shoe, then fling it off with a slight kick, watching the snow as it would float to the ground, landing softly and finally becoming one with the land. Susan would then imagine she was a snowflake, and as she went to the ground, she would look in the window through which she could see her parents, and stick there for a moment. They never noticed her there, so she let herself fall.

There was no doubt in Susan’s mind why she was sitting on top of her parents’ house, during a snowstorm. She wanted nothing more than to be as peaceful and graceful as a simple snowflake. She had already tied up all loose ends, which consisted only of saying goodbye to Rex, the aging black lab who was her only true friend.

Steading herself, Susan stood slowly, careful not to fall. The time had to be right, she knew. Once she was standing, Susan tilted her head back and closed her eyes. Never had she felt so courageous. Moving her arms to her sides, she took a deep breath in. Taking a step forward, she let her last breath out.

She did not open her eyes to see if her parents were watching, she knew they were not. Susan stopped breathing before she hit the ground. As she lay there and the snow fell over her, fourteen years of life melted from her body and dissolved, perhaps faster than the snowflakes that cushioned her fall.

 

This was something that I wrote more than fifteen years ago, and found today. I decided to share it because it is still so pertinent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the leading causes of death among teenagers is suicide. “The Centers for Disease control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.” That’s 4,600 kids who, each year, will never know that an awesome life can be just around the bend.

I share this with you today so that if you have kids, you check in on them. Life can seem really hard sometimes, and it can be so easy to not see the warning signs. I know what it feels like to be so wrapped up in life that you stop seeing what is in front of you, sometimes because one more problem may be too much to bear.

I was so lucky, am so grateful, that when I was going through divorce a friend suggested I send my daughter to a therapist. A great art therapist who let my daughter feel heard. Who gave her the tools to deal with her anger and confusion, and to know that she had someone who would always hear her. I know – we can’t all see a therapist or send our kids to one, but we can all check on our kids, right now; right at this very moment.

I have a bad habit of playing the “what-if” game with myself, concocting all sorts of worst-case scenarios. This short scene that I wrote years before my daughter was born still haunts me, because it fits into my what-if game so well.

One of the hardest things with doing energy work on others is that if there is no physical symptom that brings them in for a session, they don’t see the point. The point is that prevention is key to physical and emotional health, if you are lucky enough to begin before the symptoms appear. So, go check on your child. And I’ll go check on mine.

Namaste. –Amy

© 2015 Amy Sampson

 

Welcome Home – how being in downward dog brought it all together

Happily, I am a new student of yoga. I have known for some time that I would be going to yoga class. It fits with my core beliefs, resonates with what I have learned with Reiki and acupressure, and continues the mind, body, and soul journey that I am on. I have talked about going to yoga class, did my research, and even bought a mat and videos to learn the postures and practice at home. It would be years after those purchases that I stepped foot into an actual class.

So, three weeks ago, my sister and I decided that we needed a serious energy boost and went to our first yoga class, at Pedal Power in Greenwood Lake. I proudly brought my very own mat with me — my fourth mat — because who wants to start a new journey (again) with a dusty old mat? And do you know what? I loved it. I have no idea what kept me from going all these years. Alright; in the true spirit of owning up to the tales we spin to ourselves and those who will listen, I know exactly why I have not gone. It’s not that I don’t like exercise — I love to walk, I have a long stride for my short legs and I can literally walk for hours. It’s that I am not flexible –like, really not flexible – and I had no desire to flaunt that to anyone.

What I learned when I began my first class just a few weeks ago, walking in at the last minute and having to start my very first class in the very front row, the only spot that was not taken, was that no one really cares. Yoga is obviously good exercise and can help get you into amazing shape, but it’s also spiritual. And being so, the others in the class do not care if my tree pose is missing a few branches. During that first class, my legs were wobbly and my arms were shaking. I realized that you should absolutely not eat dinner right before class. My stomach was turned upside down and squeezed like a sponge. But I walked in with shoulder pain, and just an hour later I was completely pain free. I felt lighter, and not just because I literally compressed my organs. I felt like I had finally taken a step towards accomplishing something I knew I should have been doing all along. 

My last class was just as special. The instructor brought the spiritual aspect to a whole new level, with a meditation dealing with the third eye chakra and bringing the creative into our lives. At one moment, she told us to close our eyes and visualize what it is that we wanted. When I did so, I saw very clearly that the book I am writing is published. I saw what the cover looked like, I saw my name on the bottom, the colors that danced on the glossy surface. And amazingly, I saw the title that I have been struggling to dream up since I wrote my first sentence so many months ago. I have had such a hard time with the title, knowing that it needed to be something that would stand out, but also encompass the concept of the story – which is about finding my way through depression and a bad relationship (many, actually), about how the world of energy work helped me to save myself, about how I can love and care for others all I want but it’s the soul inside of me that I needed to find in order to do those things. And when I closed my eyes, I saw my message so clearly: Welcome Home. 

This is the most important lesson I have learned so far. We all have to look within ourselves to find out who we are and what we are meant to do. It’s not something that someone else can give us. Support us, yes. Love us, sure. But we first have to learn that our home, our power, resides within. Once we do, we can reach that quiet state, and an in instant, know that we are home. Namaste.

 

©2015 Amy Sampson

 

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

 

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