Category Archives: Encouragement

Am I Making a Mistake? What Life Wants You to Know

Howdy Folks,

I’ve been on a hiatus, but now I’m back to share some of the happenings in my life. Hopefully, this post can encourage you in your own journey in this confusing as hell thing called life.

Image courtesy of Stuart Mills at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Mills at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I thought the middle of 2015 would be much more successful, but it’s actually been a struggle. I’ve been trying to add more accomplishments to my repertoire this year, but I’ve only been racking up failures. Nevertheless I’m thankful for the failures because they’ve taught me some important lessons that I plan to apply for the rest of this year and beyond.

First, I tried buying a house with my parents, and it ended up pretty badly because we made first-time buyer mistakes and had the worst lenders on the planet. We lost the house, lost a ton of money, and I almost lost my mind. I’ve been trying to block out those three horrible months, and I think I’m succeeding. At least that’s one thing going right.

Image courtesy of Stuart Mills at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Mills at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Second, I tried getting a full-time job in Atlanta, the place where I thought I would be living, but I’ve only gone deaf from the silence of these potential employers. I switched my job-hunting to Boston, but I got only crickets too. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tufts University and Columbia, great references, and amazing cover letters. However, because I decided to go to Korea to teach English right after graduate school, I found myself teaching English for the past two years because I enjoyed it and, also, couldn’t find work in anything else. When I tried making the switch to getting jobs tied closely to my graduate degree, I got no invites for interviews because my resume lacked the experience.

Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / I’m one of those X’s 😦

So, warning to those out there hoping to teach English abroad: make sure you have great connections to get a job in something different when you’re done and don’t spend too much time teaching English if your heart not’s really into it.

Thankfully, I don’t mind teaching English, but of course I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing it. I want to make a living as a writer: write books, articles, and personal essays. Teaching English is just a fun way to pay the bills before I make it big as a writer or whatever that means. But I’ll know it when it happens.

Despite all of this, I’m currently enrolled in a Master’s program in Law and Public Policy. Why? Well, when I failed to get into a PhD program, I thought getting a second Master’s would be my way there. Don’t ever do this, by the way.

I also wasn’t doing anything spectacular with my life, and my father still clung to his dream of me becoming a badass lawyer. As a result, I made the BIG mistake of getting into this program. I got A’s, but I was incredibly unhappy and uninterested in the subjects my classes covered. Notice I’m speaking in the past tense here because I plan to drop out. I’ve never done this before and it sorta scares the hell out of me.

Now, I’m back where I started: lost, adrift, confused, miserable, and unfulfilled. The realization hit me that if I didn’t do something drastic, I would give up on life, not kill myself per say, but be a walking zombie who just did what was expected of her because it was easy and required no confrontation and risks.

Now, I’m not one to be concerned about the stars, but I’m an Aries and my claws came out at the thought of having my life controlled by the expectations and dreams of others.

I needed to do something crazy, something to shake me out of the three-year funk. Look, I tried. I really did. I tried being a normal functioning member of American society, but I failed. Others might say I gave up to early. All I know for sure is that I’m sick of forcing my self to be a person I’m not.

So, what did I do?

I applied for a teaching job in Aichi, Japan.

Toyokawa Inari Temple
Toyokawa Inari Temple

The specific town, Toyokawa-shi, where I’ll be living is about three hours south of Tokyo and possesses castles and gorgeous flora. I got the job because my teaching credentials were hard to beat. Competition didn’t have a chance.

The job is a perfect fit for me because I’ll be working 4pm-9pm, which gives me plenty of time to work on my writing in the mornings. I’ve already lived abroad before so I know what to expect and what not to expect.

Look, I’m not going to Japan to solve my problems or to run away from them. I’m going to Japan because I want to experience something completely new every single day. My soul needs wonder to shock it out of its sleep and slow decline toward death. Furthermore, I have no romantic partner nor children, so I have no responsibilities there. My parents are young and thankfully healthy and don’t really need me around.

At 28, I’m free so you bet I’m taking this opportunity.

However, it’s not all sunshine and unicorns. My parents will be furious when I tell them. My family will talk. People will think whatever they need to think about my decision and will most likely believe that I’m making a big mistake, committing career suicide. I know.

But I don’t want to be a lawyer, a policymaker, or office worker. I want to do two things: teach and write. In another country. And travel. I want to explore new places and write about my adventures. I want to meet new people and listen to their stories. I want to inspire other people to take the chance to travel when it’s given to them. I want to live a life that’s under my control.

I’m tired of trying to be someone I’m not just to satisfy other people, especially my parents, family, colleagues, and society. I want to be true to myself no matter the risks, no matter the number of shaking heads, no matter the disapproval.

Am I making a mistake? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. At the end, I’ll live with my decision. But one thing for sure, the ride definitely won’t be boring.

How about you? Have you ever taken a decision that you thought was a mistake, but went through with it anyway? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

Be Inspired: Post #1

via http://www.catinwater.com

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you

By Christian D. Larson

How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part I

I feel you, Kitty. I feel you.

Sometimes I’m shocked at how much I’m able to create or write in the midst of all the crap I have to deal with it internally and externally: loneliness, family pressures, unfulfilling job, agent rejections, financial instability, depression, etc. I can’t count the number of times I’ve contemplated suicide or wanted to run away as far as possible from my life here in Boston. Or just give up on living abundantly and resign myself to the 9-5 slog of zombie walking. But I don’t. I don’t stop writing. I don’t stop creating. I never stop hoping for something more than the life I’m living. I keep going, sometimes even without motivation. Without discipline. Without anything. I keep going. How? I’m going to share with you four of the things I do to write and keep creating in the face of deep discouragement. In part two, which I will post soon, I’ll share the next four things that I do.

Getting things done like a boss.

1.) Write down goals for each week, month, and next six months, and follow the progress of these goals.

One of the ways that I make it through life when it feels like a total slump is to write down my goals for the week, month, and the next six months. Looking at my goals every days fuels my day with purpose and moves me to get things done even when I don’t feel like it. Writing down goals drags me out of the la la land of dreams toward reality. I love dreaming, but I don’t want to live in my dreams forever. I want to experience the reality of them coming true, and that happens with making goals that I work hard to achieve every day. Next, I always follow the progress of said goals to see how far I’ve come or how behind I am. Doing so makes me have an active relationship with my goals. They’re not simply words I write down and forget the next day. It doesn’t help to approach goal setting in a superficial, hollow manner. That’s why I use apps like Evernote to help organize my goals and progress so I can access them anywhere.

2.) Meditate every day for at least twenty minutes.

The second reason why I don’t burn my eyebrows off or have what should be my millionth nervous break down is meditation. I can’t stress enough how important meditation is to keeping sane. Those twenty minutes or more of silence, of getting away from the world and technology, just refreshes your batteries to take on whatever comes next. And there’s really no right way to meditate. You just need to sit still; you don’t need to do anything fancy like curl your fingers or cross your feet.

Now that’s my type of meditation. Via betterdoctor.com

And don’t worry if you start thinking about a bunch of things. Let your mind do its thing. When you’re ready, focus on one idea or focus on the darkness when you close your eyes. Listen to your breathing. Breathe deeply. Listen to one of the hundreds of meditation tunes on YouTube while you meditate to help set the mood. I personally love listening to traditional Native American songs while I meditate. I just fly away and forget everything. It’s perfect. I can’t go a day without mediation.

3.) Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude goes hand in hand with my meditation. I always start my meditation by listing all the things that I’m grateful for. This exercise helps me put things in perspective. Instead of complaining of things I don’t have, I focus on the things I do have, and this chases away negative feelings that would otherwise occupy my mind. In the grand scheme of things, I’m quite blessed: I have a job, a warm place to live during this terrible winter, meals to eat, a loving family, and the function of my limbs and senses. That’s a lot more than a whole lot of people in the world. Practicing gratitude keeps me moving forward without steam.

4.) Don’t be too hard on myself if I fall short of my goals

I don’t always achieve all the weekly or monthly goals I set for myself. When I fall short on making something happen, I choose not to be too hard on myself because that can easily spiral into a vortex of negative thinking. Once caught in that vortex, I may not want to set goals again in order to avoid the awful feelings associated with failing. One of the worst things you can do is fear failure because it stops you from taking action, especially the kind of risky action that can give large returns. Instead of focusing on the things I didn’t achieve, I take stock of what I’ve succeeded in doing. This gives me a much-needed boost to keep going and get to the things I failed to achieve.

I used to think life was this terrible, sadistic monster that tried to trip me up any chance it got. But that picture of life was all wrong. There was nothing out there trying to destroy me or make me feel miserable. It was all in my head. Life is what I make it. Today, I’d like to think life responds to my mindset and actions. I’d like to believe life is something beautiful and I need to flow with it, not against it. I don’t need to fight, I need to create more than anything.

What about you? What are some things you do keep yourself creating or doing what you love in the face of discouragement? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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The Secret to Making Your Dreams Come True Revealed!

When I was in the third grade, my teacher gave us an assignment in which we had to use the week’s spelling words to create a story. I wrote about a detective bunny rabbit that solved a very difficult case. I enjoyed the assignment tremendously and had a fun time making up the story.

I’ve got a mystery to solve!

The next day, while I was chatting with my friend during our snack break, my teacher, Ms. Bess, a very kind petite woman with long blond hair, called for everyone’s attention. Her next words would change my life forever. She said, “Everyone, listen to Carla’s story!”

I jumped at the mention of my name and my heart kept beating faster and faster as Ms. Bess read my story to the whole class. My classmates all clapped for me at the end and told me how much they liked it. I was elated and couldn’t wait to get home to tell my parents. My older cousin was visiting that day and she, along with my folks, complimented me.

It was one of the happiest days of my childhood.

child-laughing
OMG, you loved my story! Waaaah, so cool!

From then on, I set out to write more stories and read more books. I devoured the written word, allowing myself to be transported to different worlds while envying the power of these authors to share their stories and stir up so many different emotions inside of me. I wanted to be a writer. An author. A creator of worlds. It was my dream to share my stories with as many people as possible.

There is power in the pages of books.

At thirteen, hungry for powerful female characters, I embarked on the journey of writing my first novel. I called the book The Fusion Girls, a tale of three remarkable sisters who possessed a dangerous power capable of saving the world from an intergalactic threat. The title of my book changed from the Fusion Girls to the Elementals to The Daughters of Destiny to Truth and Destiny and then finally to Children of Tokua.

The story followed me throughout the rest of my adolescence and onwards to college to graduate school and now to my late twenties. It has changed so much since its conception that I’m not even sure how many times I’ve rewritten it while keeping the same core theme. The book has grown with me, reflecting my changes in attitudes, philosophies, and perspectives in life. What began as the dream of a thirteen-year-old tomboy had become one of the defining features of my life.

I call it passion, but I wouldn’t judge others who would call it insanity.

Set your imagination free.

I am in the final stages of closing this incredible chapter in my life. Although the characters are creations of my imagination, they have become something more, taking on lives of their own a long time ago.

They are my children, my siblings, and my friends—tenants forever taking up space in my head.

So, what is the secret to making dreams come true?

2 Things: Tenacity and a willingness to change.

These two cannot be underestimated nor ignored. If you really want to see your dreams come true, you must persevere against all odds, frustrations, negativity, rejections, and failures. Most of all you must face yourself, which is oftentimes your biggest enemy.

But none of that means anything if you aren’t willing to be flexible and change to find out what works and what doesn’t. It pays to be humble and acknowledge your mistakes, to learn from your failures and listen to wise counsel. With that you can move forward intelligently while believing that victory is yours. Because if you have tenacity and a willingness to adapt, you can accomplish anything. Anything.

Keep going, but keep going intelligently.

It’s been almost fifteen years since I first started writing with the hopes of becoming published. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned so much and know how to move forward now. It’s only a matter of time before my dream is a reality. And when it is, you’ll be the first to know.

What about you? What do you think is the secret to making dreams come true? I’d love to hear your response!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, folks! 🙂

Beginnings are filled with so much hope and promise. There’s always that strong desire to be better, smarter, happier, and more successful than before. Sometimes the change we want doesn’t come as we hope it would, but it’s still worth it to keep trying to change. Hard work is everything. That’s what i’ve learned from 2014 and will bring it with me into 2015 as I attempt once more to make my publishing dreams come true. I will get an agent. I will be published. I will hold my novel in my hands. I will see this day, no ifs or buts about it. This will be reality. I’m sending it out there into the universe for it to happen as I do my part–writing, editing, revising, and querying my butt off. Dreams come true. I’ll make it. And you will too in whatever dream you have. 🙂

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

Never give up hope.

When Everything Goes Wrong

2014 hasn’t been kind to me so far, which bites because 2013 wasn’t a blast either. I’ve been on a failing streak with one setback rolling in right after the other. Just when I think life has decided to give me a shiny gold coin, it pulls it right out of my reach before I can take it. Lucy would’ve been proud. And of course like any normal human being, I’ve buckled under the pressure, cursed the gods, and experience internal torment. Thankfully it’s not my style to stay broken and buried. Even if I have to claw my way out of this grimy pit, I will get out. Strangely enough misery motivates me to change whatever hasn’t been working.

First thing I did was get a haircut. I have this strange ritual where I cut my hair as some sort of external display of rebirth. I look in the mirror and see the new look, thinking about how I’m going to change. But that’s just 1% of the work needed to transform my situation. Usually my gut reaction to my problems is to leave the country. Runaway and teach English in some far off country where I don’t have to think or deal with any of the demons back home. Sadly, I’ve grown practical and can’t bring myself to do such a thing. Running away won’t help because my problems will follow me wherever I go. They live in my head, which last I check isn’t detachable. So what do I do?

Create opportunities. Work harder on my craft. Remember that the bad times won’t last forever. Be a better person to my loved ones and the people around me. Exercise regularly. Eat better. Get help in the form of a therapist. I’m pretty sure I’m holding my breath underwater and it won’t be long before I drown. So I have to keep all these things in mind to move forward and attain the life I want to live. To remember that life is worth living no matter my environment or my circumstances. Life is worth living.

What do you do when everything goes wrong? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

250 Words of Encouragement #5

It’s going to be okay. No need to feel broken and separated from everyone else. It’s no longer necessary to find escape through deep sleep.  You can find peace here. It is waiting for you in your heart. You can find healing for your mind, body, and soul. You can find it now. It’s not hidden someplace far beyond your reach or calling to you from in inaccessible planes. It’s here. It has always been here. You simply forgot or didn’t believe. Your peace. Let it massage your tired muscles, calm your heart, and help you breathe anew. It will awaken your mind and replace your dulled senses with the alertness of creative energy, bursting with power and amazingness. Unleash the inhibition chained to the logical spaces of your mind. You don’t need it. Let go of control. Let go of unspiritual needs of what they say will bring you happiness. Create happiness in this moment now. This moment loves you and will give you sweet kisses of joy, pure and refreshing. You will forget what once hurt your mind, your pride, and hope. Put it in the past and go forth with a new voice, a new song, waiting inside to be sung for all to hear. I want to hear your new voice, your new song deep within the caverns where you keep them all hidden. I’m waiting for you. Don’t keep me waiting long. I am happiness. I am joy. I am fulfillment.