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Sam Chat: Purpose & Perspective

If anything, I’m writing this blog post for myself to remember my family’s experience evacuating from our home and the new perspective I gained from an almost life-changing event. If you’ve ever been through something similar that moved you or changed your perspective, comment below because I’d love to hear your story! If you don’t care to read my long story about the actual fire, feel free to scroll to the bottom to the sub-title called “perspective” to see what I feel like I gained from this experience.

I woke up on Tuesday morning at 4am to hear an airplane overhead which I would later find out was dropping water over the Creek fire that started in Sylmar. I went back to sleep thinking it was nothing. By the time I woke up that morning around 8am, the fire was visible from my family’s windows overlooking what we call “the wash,” an area of vast land with trails that people in the horse community ride their horses. The fire was past the wash, across the freeway, and only just cresting the top of a mountain barely visible. This has happened times before in our surrounding area and 99.9% of the time, it’s nothing to worry about. This is about that other 1% of the time.

Quickly by 9am it had already burned ¾ of the way down the mountain. At that point, no one was that worried because like I said this has happened numerous times. By 11, the freeway or those mountains were barely visible in all the smoke. Some concern set in as I watched my neighbors and my Mom worry about how to get our horse out if it came time to evacuate. The streets were already getting crowded and freeway entrances/exists were beginning to close. Then, It had jumped the freeway and started burning the wash. Our house sits on a hill just above the wash and we were told if the smoke starts blowing into our faces, into the direction of our house, that’s when we have to worry. It happened so fast. One minute we thought evacuating was unnecessary, the next we know, it’s hard to breathe, the smoke is enveloping us and our homes, and we’re packing things up as quickly as possible.

The crazy thing about fires is they’re not like a flood. It doesn’t burn down everything in it’s path, inching closer and closer like water might. The extreme winds we had carried embers from mountains that were far off in the distance to our own backyard. One minute we’re looking out our windows watching it from afar, the next we know I can feel the heat.

I can FEEL the heat. The flames were still burning in the wash, embers jumping from one tree to the next. I touched the windows inside my house and they were warm. I went outside where my Dad was wearing motorcycle goggles shielding his eyes from the ash and embers, taking a video of what was possibly the last time we would see our back hill or house as it was. The heat was even stronger outside and the flames below looked so tall. Before I knew it, it was go-time.

My mom was leading our horse out of the arena and down the street. She doesn’t have a horse trailer so we searched high and low for a horse trailer that was already in the neighborhood. People offered trailers from all over, they were even being dispatched into our neighborhood but that was only half the battle. A couple trailers we had lined up were stuck on the freeway as they closed exits down and were unable to get to us. Finally, we were able to get in contact with a kind stranger who said he could meet at the bottom of our street and take our horse TJ to a rescue center. We loaded our 4 dogs into the 2 cars and threw any last-minute things into the backseats. My family has too many cars and not enough people so I drove one car to the next street over, then ran back to get the other. The smoke really got to me by then. My lungs were burning, my eyes were burning, and from the bottom of the street my house wasn’t even visible amongst all the smoke. Flames roared high as our neighbor’s house two doors down was burning to the ground. Firetrucks crowded the streets, cars were trying to get out, and horse owners were trying to lure their horses into feeling safe enough to get inside the trailers.

A horse got loose on our street so I tried to help put her into a trailer before heading back to the house to get the other car. These poor gentle animals were scared out of their minds and had no idea what was happening. Amidst all the chaos though, I looked around and told myself to remember this feeling of a community coming together and unifying under trying circumstances. No one was going to leave a horse behind if they could help it.

Back at our house, my Dad and brother were busy putting hot spots out as embers would land on the trees and brush on our hill and our neighbor’s hill. Firefighters hadn’t yet arrived to our house as they were busy trying to help with structures going up in flames. I know without a doubt if my Dad and brother decided to throw in the towel any earlier, those hot spots would have fed off each other and eventually burned our own house to the ground. Meanwhile, my Mom and I left to get our dogs out of the smoke while my dad and brother said they would be shortly behind.

My brother later told me that he looked over at our neighbor’s house and noticed their car and motorcycle were still in the driveway and we hadn’t seen them all day. He went over there to check it out and started banging on their windows, knocking on their door. Finally the man came to the living room, throwing his arms up wondering what all the racket was. He had no idea!! I don’t know how that happens, but he had no idea there was a fire. He quickly scrambled to get out of there. Not too long after that, their guest house caught on fire and burned down.

It was a long night and a rollercoaster of answers. We got a call from my Dad who was at the house and was positive our house was going to burn down. He was sad, but grateful that the things that really mattered were safe. Eventually, firefighters came to the house and told my Dad and Brother they had to leave now. None of us would know the fate of our house for a while. By some miracle, a few hours later we were told our houses hadn’t burned and if it could survive the night and all the embers raining down, it would be safe.

We woke the next morning at a friend’s house to good news that our house had made it throughout the night. Those high winds made every scenario unpredictable but we couldn’t be more grateful. Even through the next few days we weren’t out of the clear as hot spots kept popping up, but the main fire had moved on. The smoke was intense and even now we are working to get the smoke out of everything— the house, our clothes, our cars. But I don’t care. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that none of our animals or my family or irreplaceable things weren’t lost in the fire.

A New Perspective

So many others in the Creek fire, the Thomas Fire, the Lilac fire, they all lost precious animals, belongings, and homes that they treasured. A few hours after we had evacuated, I was sitting in my smoke-filled car with 2 of my dogs in the backseat, my Mom’s car in front of me with our other dogs, my eyes just burning from the smoke and ash, my blonde hair almost stained from the ash. My phone had been blowing up ALL morning. Friends near and far were calling to see if we needed help. Friends I hadn’t talked to in a while were offering to make calls on our behalf to find a horse trailer, my best friends were offering anything they could, people were offering to bring their trucks over to help us, offering their homes for us to evacuate to. Seriously, people were amazing. Even though I couldn’t respond to half of the people at the time, I had a moment to myself in the car and just thought…how incredible that there are so many good people in this world. And when I thought about if I were to lose everything…what’s really important to me? It was an overwhelming sense of quality over quantity. That the quality people were there when we needed them most, were offering their help and hearts, and that most possessions don’t really matter.

Sometimes we place so much emphasis on materialistic things on a day to day basis. We’re blogging about our favorite clothes and accessories, the latest deals on whatever it may be. And so often I really do try to write blogs with more weight, more gravity. But everyone gets caught up.  We’re so invested in social media, showing people where we are and what we’re doing and who we’re with. But during this experience, all that faded to the background and I felt SO grateful and blessed to have the people in my life that I do, that my family was safe, and that our friends opened their home to us. It wasn’t life or death for us, not even close. But I felt in my heart the tragedy that so many others were going through. It really made me think about my purpose. During something like this, my days were filled with tasks so different than my day to day. It made me think that when I’m back to a “normal” routine, what’s my goal here? What REALLY matters? What’s my purpose? For me this experience solidified my purpose, my passions, and not taking things for granted. Because in some odd way I felt that if I lost everything materialistic, what would still be standing and strong is my purpose, my passion, and my drive. (Besides my family and animals by my side 😉

Thanks for reading and drop a comment if you’re having a “me too!” moment.

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tenthingsaboutmeblogger
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Sam Chat: 10 Things About Me

You know me, I like a good list. Lists make me happy and grounded and they’re addicting. There’s a reason why everyone reads the Buzzfeed lists, right? While those are probably more entertaining than this one will be, a good relatable list is nice. I recently polled you guys on Instagram and some of you said you’d like to know more about me. It’s funny being on the backend of things, you assume strangers know so much about you but sometimes the obvious to you isn’t to someone else. Give me a shout if you read any of these and think YES ME TOO!

  1. I’m deathly afraid of scary/horror movies. I refuse to watch them now because I won’t sleep for days. I talk myself into an irrational fear that there is indeed someone or some “thing” in my room that will get me haha. In middle school or high school I could watch them fine but not anymore.
  2. I’ve traveled internationally to Switzerland and Italy and hoping I get to do another trip abroad soon! On my bucket list: London (and also the countryside of England), France, Ireland, Portugal, Prague.
  3. I have a degree in Screenwriting and love acting. I love the world of filmmaking in general and will always continue to do that. Extra fun fact: I’ve written a feature film.
  4. My Mom is from South Carolina and while I am born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I have those southern roots. I frequently visit the south, where my uncle still lives, and love everything about it. I love home too though, where my Mom and Dad met. I also have a younger brother who just turned 22! (he’s one of my best friends).
  5. I consider myself an introverted extrovert. Your girl likes to go out and have a glass of wine with friends and be social, but the next morning you better believe I want that alone time.
  6. I LOVE love love animals. They have a special place in my heart and I wish I could rescue every single one. My family currently has 4 dogs and a horse!
  7. I’m a sucker for rom-coms. It’s the romantic at heart in me coming out, I just can’t help it.
  8. I live for Christmas. If it could be Christmas all year long I would 100% be okay with that! Something about the colors, the lights, the decorations, the traditions, the kindness we see come out in the world. I’m currently working on a blog post about how to carry that holiday spirit with us all the tine. Stay tuned!
  9. You know those memes you see where it says, “she’s classy with a little hood”? That’s me. Or the one that says “she likes to blast rap music on the way back from yoga.” Yep! I like to go to the gym a couple times during the week and you better believe I’m playing some music to pump me up.
  10. Speaking of music, country music is my jam. My all-time favorite music! Currently listening to: Frankie Ballard, Florida Georgia Line, Granger Smith, Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Rae Lynn, Marren Morris, Sam Hunt, really I could keep on going haha.

Tell me a fact about yourself, I’d love to get to know you! Leave a comment below!

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Sam Chat: Leading with Kindness – Thoughts on #PrayforVegas

Please know that the following are thoughts on the recent Las Vegas shooting. If you feel you might be affected in a way that compromises your emotional health from reading this post, this is a heads up. Although I do share how I will be spreading more kindness and encouragement to try to make a difference in this world at the end of the post 🙂

I’m not going to lie to you, my head has been completely clouded ever since the shooting in Vegas happened. All kinds of emotions have been diluting my thoughts; fear, gratitude, anxiety, anger. For days I felt like I couldn’t interact on Instagram like I usually do because things were jolted into a different perspective. When you come SO close to losing people dear to you, you feel a little shift. And today I wanted to weigh in on that shift.

Our world has been rapidly changing and it seems like there are more forces of evil since the time I was a child. Maybe that’s not true, but the older I get the less safe I feel. I can’t say that I will ever know what it’s like to have bullets grazing past my body, to have lives taken right in front of me, to hear that horrible sound of an automatic weapon silencing everything around, to hear sheer panic from human beings trying to enjoy life. But I do know that my heart sank when I got news of this massacre. I know that I’ve felt scared just going into to any public area or facility since then. I know that I look for ways out now wherever I am. And I know that while that might be necessary in today’s world, we can do our part to spread more kindness.

A roller coaster of emotions 

It was a roller coaster of emotions that night. I felt panic trying to get in touch with friends at the festival. I was about to burst at the seams trying to find out if they’re okay, angry that something like this could happen again. I felt such sadness as I learned the name and face of every person that died. Tears formed as I thought of how every person there was just celebrating life, dancing with their people, unaware of the horror that would come. I felt so angry that my friends had to go through that fear, that awful unknown. I also felt overwhelming relief when I found out my friends were okay and unharmed. I said a prayer, SO incredibly thankful. My life and my friend’s lives could have been completely changed if that moment had been any different. And while it hasn’t changed in any physical way, I can say that my outlook has changed.

While I feel such anger that this happened to innocent people, I feel more determined than ever to spread light, love, hope, and faith in humanity. Now more than ever we need to have faith that there are good people in this world and let that light shine on the good so it can dilute the bad. This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to the bad people and the awful things they do, but as Gandhi said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

I don’t know about you, but as an individual I’ve often felt helpless. A small fish in a big world. We can try to change laws, we can try to be precautious about environments that we’re in, but ultimately we can’t predict what will happen. What we can do, is be mindful…

A kindness campaign: #constantkindness

It is our responsibility to have faith in humanity and put the kindness and unity back into our people. We can encourage each other, collaborate with one another, stop pitting people against one another, lift each other up, and make a point to be kind to people—our friends and strangers alike. This week on my Instagram, I’m starting a #constantkindness campaign to try to put some faith back into humanity, a challenge for us to be kind and selfless. Every week I’ll be sharing something encouraging or motivating to my followers while also trying to give back, spread some love, and encourage others to do the same.

Today I challenge you to find ways to lift others up and put a smile on their face even if it’s in the smallest of ways. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee, let people over on the freeway (we all know how bad LA traffic is) encourage someone who is trying to grow their business or go after their dreams, write a friend a sweet letter, do a chore you know a friend or family member is dreading, etc. there are SO many ways!

In a world where we might feel less safe, we can still try to be more kind. Where there is hatred, there is always love so let’s shine a light on that. The news and media love to show all the bad things that go on, but I’m confident we can share the good within our social media communities! Share your acts of kindness on Instagram with the hashtag #constantkindness and tag me @theconstantcreative and I’d love to re-post you guys!

 

P.S. shop more inspirational cards and drop someone a note of encouragement via my Etsy shop here.

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What Being in A Sorority Taught Me About Comfort Zones
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Sam Chat: What Joining a Sorority Taught Me About Comfort Zones

As an Alumni helping out during recruitment at Pref night for my chapter, I was asked why I picked Alpha Phi. Trust me when I say in the least self-fulfilling way that I think my response could be helpful and relatable to anyone, no matter if you’re thinking about this blog post in terms of a sorority, job opportunity, or any new experience. I told the young freshman standing in front of me that I honestly chose Alpha Phi because when I was going through recruitment, I saw a part of myself in these girls that maybe I didn’t have the confidence to be yet, and that scared me. But I also knew that it scared me because I wanted it, because it felt right, and because I knew it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone. I will forever be grateful for that decision because it has made me grow as a person, as an entrepreneur, and as a creative. I recognize that many people have had different experiences with the Greek system, some good and some bad, but this is my experience and I’d love to share what I learned from it.

If you’re reading this as a girl who might go through recruitment but you don’t know if it’s right for you (yet wandering campus alone and having two close friends who you don’t see very often also doesn’t feel right) this is for you.

If you’re reading this because you would “never” join a sorority or risk being judged for it— I’d love for you to read this, so you have a chance to see the Greek system from the perspective of someone that once had the same outlook as you.

And If you’re reading this because you’ve stood in my shoes—this is also for you so we can celebrate this journey we’ve been through.

Backstory: If you only knew…

I was a transfer to California State University, Northridge and pretty comfortable with my life as it was. I was excited about starting in the screenwriting program and finally being at a University that felt right for my needs. Two years prior I had transferred from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo because they didn’t have a film program or the major of screenwriting that I knew I truly wanted but it felt right this time around at CSUN. I was happy to see my lifelong high school friends whenever I could, but most of them didn’t live so close to me anymore. My other best friend was my boyfriend of 6 years but going into my senior year of college, our breakup kind of rocked my world. There was nothing that could’ve prepared me for feeling so not “me.” Everything going into my senior year was different: From where I lived ( I moved into an apartment) to making new friends.

I had been around a few girls that joined sororities, but I was convinced for years that it wasn’t for me. I watched my roommate freshman year go through recruitment and even my mom was in a sorority for a short period of time, but I was the girl that would say, “You couldn’t pay me to be in a sorority.” To be honest, I 100% judged girls that were in sororities. Why would I “pay for friends?” Why would I get “hazed?” Why would I want to be a part of something so exclusive? Now I look back and think if you only knew. And that’s the thing, I just didn’t know. You don’t pay for friends, you definitely don’t get hazed, and it’s not something exclusive, rather it’s something so sacred between sisters once you’re in it.

I was caught between two opposing thoughts: half the people I knew would probably judge me for joining one and caution me about getting “hazed” and I’ll be left asking myself, “How will you get yourself out of this once you realize you’re with a bunch of girls who aren’t genuine and don’t fit your personality?” The other voice was telling me that there’s a reason why so many girls fall in love with the organization they pick. And after meeting a few girls who really didn’t seem to fit the stereotype, I decided to expand my horizon and give it a go.

What I wanted from this experience

By the time Pref night came for me (where you go to the houses of your top two preferences), I was completely invested in the recruitment process and also totally torn between two sororities. I never thought I would be there, but I had found two organizations that spoke to me. My perspective might be different now that I’ve been on the other side and involved in a sorority that I cherish so much, but at the time I started making a mental list of all the things I loved about each sorority, the girls in it, their philanthropies, you name it. And what it came down to, was that one sorority felt safe and the other felt like it would push me out of my comfort zone. What did I really want out of my experience? What did I want as a 21 year old who didn’t join a sorority until my senior year, the only year I would ever get to be in one? To grow as a person and make genuine connections with people. They always say to go in the directions of your dreams, but I also think sometimes you need to go in the directions of your fears. Your fears are a fear for a reason, because you know that growth will come, because you know you might be successful, because you know that whatever lies outside of that comfort zone is something magical. I knew that I saw myself in Alpha Phi, but it almost felt too good to be true. So instead of second guessing myself or wondering what if or playing it “safe,” I decided to go for it and I’m so glad I did.

The amount of excitement mixed with anxiety I had on Bid Day was insane. I opened that envelope and saw “Alpha Phi” written down and I was excited but also some voice popped in my head that said, “Oh no, what did you just do?” It was that feeling of finally getting what you wanted but then that fear kicks in and you start paddling backwards. I felt a little bit like an outsider internally because most of the girls were head over heels excited and knew they wanted to join a sorority since high school. However, looking back I also know I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was. I’ve talked to a lot of girls that were excited but so overwhelmed. I was so anxious because I’ve never been more out of my comfort zone.

Being out of my comfort zone taught me…

I can say with confidence that joining a sorority taught me SO much about why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone. Looking back, it’s almost weird that the whole experience intimidated me at first. I can’t tell you how in love I am with the Greek system now and I know that Alpha Phi is a huge reason why I am the person I am (as is any sorority you join).

  • Getting outside of my comfort zone broadened my perspective. I get asked often if I was hazed or about other common misconceptions about being in a sorority and I would love nothing more than for people to see the positive impact the Greek system can have on a young person’s life. Being in a sorority opened me up to a whole other world at my university and oddly enough for a system that gets a bad rap for judging people, I think it helped me not to judge others as much and be open to experiences I may not know enough about. Being a part of an organization that has such an impactful foundation as well as morals and values that I feel so connected to is something I never would have gotten to experience without Alpha Phi. Being part of a sisterhood where all the girls cherish that as much as I do is something really special.
  • Getting outside of my comfort zone led me to my best friends and to form meaningful connections with people. Commuting from home to campus and back without meeting new people that often wasn’t the experience I knew I was meant to have in college and yet that’s how much of my freshman and sophomore years were spent. After joining a sorority, it might’ve felt overwhelming at the time to be in a house with 100 other girls, but it teaches you a lot about being open to new friendships, conversations, and connections. I can say with 1000% certainty that my experience would be so different without being in the Greek system. I wouldn’t have had people to say hi to or hangout with on campus, no sisters to study with in the library during finals, no connections to other people interested in the film and tv industry, and I wouldn’t have met my lifelong best friends.
  • Getting outside of my comfort zone prepared me for running my own business. So much of my senior year was spent running from class to a sorority event back to finishing a project, etc. The schedule got a little crazy and stressful but I loved every second of it. Turns out, that’s really similar to my life now as an actor/writer, blogger, and Etsy shop owner.

If any of you are faced with an amazing opportunity that excites you but ignites a little pang of fear in you, take that leap. In 10 years, you’ll be so glad you went out of your comfort zone. Tell me in the comments below what you’ve been wanting to do that’s out of your comfort zone! Scroll to the bottom!

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Sam Chat: What Hawaii Taught Me About Being Present
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Sam Chat: What Hawaii Taught Me About Being Present (Beyond Putting Your Cell Phone Down)

You know that feeling when you’ve been traveling all day and you finally get to where you’re going? When you finally see that beautiful water and put your feet in the sand that feels like butter and then…everyone takes out their phone. I’m 100% guilty of it too. This past trip I went on with my family though, I took a step back and realized just what Hawaii taught me about being present. But this isn’t just your typical post about turning your phone off. There were a  lot of takeaways about being present that I didn’t think about before.

#picoritdidnthappen

Being away from the stresses of daily life, it was a little bit easier to breathe it all in. It was nice to pause and not have to worry about anything really. It also made it easier to step back and think about things. We are so used to taking out our phones and documenting every second in our day to day lives. This was no exception, especially in a gorgeous place like Hawaii. The thing is, I don’t think most of us in the millennial generation are taking photos necessarily for the memories. Sure, it’s nice to have them and show a few friends. But for the most part, we take photos because we’re thinking ahead about what we want to post on social media. That’s kind of sad. We take a beautiful hike where the view is just breathtaking, but we don’t stop to think about the moment. Or the history behind the environment. Or how we’ll never be in this same place with family again. All we do is scramble to take a few boomerangs, and then re-take some photos with a different pose, and then we leave. #picoritdidnthappen is the double-edged sword millennials have with wanting to show the world what we’re up to and yet when we’re always thinking ahead, we’re NEVER in the present.

Millennials and Being Present

Something that made me realize this pattern us millennials have is in part thanks to my parents. They aren’t thinking ahead about what photo to post on social media. (Mom if you’re reading this, super proud of you learning Instagram though). They take pictures because they really want to look back and remember and cherish everything. That’s kind of the ultimate goal, right?

As I would do my morning pages every day, I was writing about trying to be more present and then I would write down everything that was worrying me, or looming above my head, or stressing me out. I thought, well this is good because I write it all down and let it all go. And then it hit me. Again…worrying about the future isn’t really being present! Worrying about things I can’t control won’t do me any good. And so being present extends so much farther than putting your phone down and smiling at the beautiful view in front of you. It’s also about learning that the NOW, the present day or moment, is the only one that matters.

Being Present in the “Now”

We hear about needing to be “present” all the time, but it’s actually a hard concept. Can you sit there for 1 minute and think about nothing but the present moment? It’s almost impossible. Our minds venture to something in the past or present. But I started to think that if we can focus on being present just a tiny bit more, we might have a happier and more peaceful state of mind, and furthermore, we can show our spark to the world when we’re in those present and open moments. More than anything, I was reminded that it’s important to be present in life so that you can be real with yourself and your dreams. Tune into your most authentic self and share your spark with the world! Go after what you really want and don’t be afraid to share your most natural, REAL, uninhibited, un-retouched, beautiful spark of self to the world!

What are a few ways you can practice being present in your daily routine? I know for me that’s taking time in the morning for me, to write and just simply be without my phone which I love doing. It’s freeing. And to also stop worrying about the future, it ain’t up to me! Scroll to the bottom to comment below!

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