Sam Chat: Meaningful Conversations + Inspiration

therapychangedmylife-anxiety-mentalhealth
Therapy Changed My Perspective; Maybe It Will Change Yours Too 768 1024 samantha

Therapy Changed My Perspective; Maybe It Will Change Yours Too

Honestly I write these blogs for myself because I enjoy the process of writing it down, I’m not trying to be a blogger and 2017 me who started this blog didn’t know what I wanted to do with it either. These blogs have become an online peanut trail, so to speak, for myself as I move through life. I heard someone say once, “it’s about the becoming.” So if you’re reading this, I guess you get a peak into life through my eyes and if it helps you in anyway, I’m glad it did and hope you’ll carry it with you to pass on to someone else eventually.

For many many years, even through college, I made the determination that I just wasn’t someone that needed therapy. While I fully supported others in it, I was curious, but I felt like I didn’t really need it. I had a good head on my shoulders, could handle things that came my way, and if I really needed to talk to someone I had my mom; she gave great advice and I trusted her. I also felt like although therapists are certified and have gone through professional training, they’re also just humans. So a percentage of the advice they give, though I’m not sure how big that percentage might be, is still based on their own life experience, their own bias (as much as they try to be unbiased.) Mostly, I didn’t trust that I would be guided in the right direction by essentially a stranger with a certification.

I tried to go to therapy once early on in college, but I gave up, finding it a hassle to find someone affordable since my insurance didn’t cover it back then, and ultimately after not connecting with the therapist I went to (after one session), I was done. I didn’t leave feeling like I got anything from it and the thought of finding someone else was overwhelming. And that was that.

Fast forward a few years later. It’s 2019 and my anxiety is beginning to be unmanageable. It was affecting my day-to-day productivity and overall state of being. I would wake up so many days filled with dread because I didn’t understand how to manage the cloud of anxiety closing in on me every single day. I hid it really well, so only the people closest to me knew about it. I was spiraling down into bouts of anxious thoughts and I hated it. I really didn’t understand how to be happy or help myself. The only things I knew to do were to journal about it and talk to those I love. And while that can be helpful, it’s also not their responsibility.

There’s a journal entry I have from early December 2019. It’s weird to re-read some of these things, because I’m so far from the person I was last year. I don’t even recognize that girl and I think I knew at the time I didn’t really even like myself and who I was amidst all the anxiety and lack of self confidence, but I didn’t know how to pinpoint that.

I woke up and started crying because I feel so stuck and unhappy. I’m struggling with my happiness and I don’t know how to fix it. This feels never ending. 

I then went on to write for two pages about all the what-if scenarios of my life. What direction I’ll go in, where my career will go, what will happen with my relationship, etc. just filled with anxiety.

And then in January 2020 the relationship I was in came to a blindsiding ending. Everything that I thought I knew, thought I believed in, thought about myself, about that relationship, about my place in this world was completely shattered. The good that I so deeply believed in was shattered by reality. Life isn’t always fair and people aren’t always good to us. Sometimes people have this one event or moment in their life that wakes them up, and this was it for me. Everything didn’t revolve around the ending of that relationship, but that ending was the catalyst for me to look at all the other parts of me and my life. I always think of a book called “To Shake Thy Sleeping Self,” which I haven’t even read, but that title has always stuck with me. It was as if I was sleeping before. For me, I think of my life in two halves up until this point: who I was before 2020 and who I am now.

The trajectory that I was on, at least internally, completely re-routed. Thank fucking goodness for that. For me, that was the last straw of sitting in my unhappiness and anxiety any longer. I don’t think I really experienced being depressed until that breaking point and I’m not even sure I really knew it at the time. I just knew that every day for months was dark. I know that I was tossed aside and then metaphorically locked up with my thoughts when the world went into a global pandemic. I ached for things and people that did not ache for me back. I told my mom I was quitting acting for sure and possibly everything else I do in the film/TV industry because I didn’t think it was bringing me happiness anymore. I didn’t understand where my worth lies or how to be happy and content from within. Honestly I wasn’t sure what would make me happy and the thought of living life everyday feeling that way felt like torture. I tried hard to convince myself otherwise. I would have bouts of clarity, like when I wrote this blog post in March, and while it made me feel better for a while, I was still trying to convince myself of those things. I knew there was truth in it, to just be grateful for another day of life, but I didn’t understand this massive shift I was experiencing.

But what I did know was I didn’t want to be that person that said they were going to work on themselves and then put a bandaid on it. I did that before years ago and it wasn’t until two years later I realized what I had done really. I went from a long-term relationship and jumped right into another one after that. No time to really sit with or process one ending, no time to wholeheartedly work on myself. In fact I look back and realize I hadn’t had a long period of time where I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone. And while I do believe you always grow in some form, there’s a specific type of transformation within that happens when you work on yourself, by yourself. I promised myself that I wanted to be a better version of myself and that I wanted to work on myself this time. And I was so done feeling this debilitating anxiety and not understanding my own happiness. So I committed to going to therapy.

It’s not easy and when I say it’s a commitment, it’s a fucking commitment. But I was and am so committed to myself and my growth and honoring everything I deserve and if you’re reading this wondering if you do too– you absolutely do. It’s not an easy process and I think anyone who has gone to therapy will tell you that, but eventually the grind work settles and you get to reap the rewards. The reality is I had to do research to find therapists that were in-network with my insurance (what a headache, but I was grateful my insurance covered it) and then I went to 5 different therapists before sticking with the 5th one. FIVE. (2nd headache). Do you know how exhausting it is to tell people about you and where you’re at in life time and time again before you find someone you like? Oh man, so very exhausting. And I wanted to throw in the towel after the second one. But I kept going and if that’s where you’re at in your process, don’t give up.

Now, I’ve been consistently going to therapy this entire year and it has honestly changed my life. What I didn’t understand before, that I hope to help anyone entertaining the idea of therapy to understand, is that therapy isn’t about you sitting on a couch crying to someone about your problems. The right therapist will shine the light on things you didn’t see before, both within yourself and those around you, they will widen your perspective and challenge your way of thinking, and they will give you the tools and the proper thought-patterns you need to manage whatever it is you need to manage. After a while, it feels like you’re talking to an old friend or family member. Like a cool aunt who just gets it, or at least that’s what it felt like for me.

I learned SO many things in therapy this year, but here’s a few important things:

  • I learned to re-frame the way I thought about things. Once I trained my brain to do this, it was amazing how much my anxiety was manageable because I wasn’t spiraling out of control with my thoughts. I have never been so steady and calm within myself like I am now.
  • I realized how much I put others before myself and that I was always hardest on myself; mad at myself for feeling mad or sad, etc. I learned that it’s okay to feel the feelings. Just feel them and try your best to let it go.
  • I recognized my own behavior patterns both good and bad. I recognized the space I held for myself in the presence of others sometimes where I wouldn’t stand up for myself, or make sure my needs were being met, or have self confidence, or was fearful of certain things. And I became aware of times when I didn’t like how I handled my emotion or reaction to things or people. Recognizing habits that were engrained into who I was for so long and changing them, has affected me on a deep deep level because it changes your interactions with people, with your work, with how you move through the world. This realization changes how you present yourself to others, how you talk, how you navigate problems. The list goes on.
  • I learned how much childhood affects who we are today and how our parents deeply affect who we are. And this is coming from someone who had a great childhood and I love my family to death. I’m very close with my family and there’s still things to look at from our childhood that have a great impact on who we are today. And for me this came up naturally in therapy. It was never, “So tell me, did you have a difficult childhood?” I would’ve hated that. Recognizing this also made me realize how the way I was treated in certain relationships was a direct affect of how they were treated. Inherently we sometimes subconsciously do the very things we hate, and therapy woke me up to that. Not only to see that within myself, but to recognize it in others.
  • I learned to be okay with the unknown. This was the biggest challenge for people like me that like to be in control, like to know what the plan is, etc. it’s so very hard to be in the unknown. But there’s so much freedom in it too. You don’t have to have everything figured out and allowing myself not to know has been a nice change of pace
  • I learned what it means to be happy on my own and to be happy within, and this one took a long time to understand. Mostly, because I understand happiness in a completely new light. It’s one thing to be alone and just survive. Before I dated anyone this year I was alone, yeah, but I was just surviving day to day. It’s something completely different to thrive and be genuinely happy when you’re by yourself. I’m so grateful to experience this massive inner growth now at this point in my life. I don’t know if I can explain it, but for me it was an inner feeling of peace that I hadn’t felt in years.
  • I learned that not everything is black and white 
  • I learned to trust my inner knowing

If you’ve read this far, congrats for getting sucked down this rabbit hole. Working on yourself is hard work and I’m sure you know a thing or two about that. Going to therapy isn’t just for when something is going really wrong in your life and if you’re considering it, here’s my take: just like a writer who writes a story, that individual only knows it from their perspective. If they give that same story to someone else, they’ll have a completely different take on it. Give yourself, give your story, to someone who will offer you a whole new way of thinking. Someone who will challenge you to shift your perspective, confront yourself, and love yourself better. Loving yourself better just means understanding yourself better, understanding why you are the way you are, so that you can love others better too. And even so you can recognize when someone doesn’t have the capacity to love you the way you deserve to be loved. Work on yourself so that you can move through this world a truly better version of who you are. So that the mark you leave on people is a good one, not a painful one.

giving, breakup, relationships, self growth, therapy
Be Mindful What You Give. Thanks, Sophia Bush 681 1024 samantha

Be Mindful What You Give. Thanks, Sophia Bush

Sometimes I start these blogs off with an introduction that sounds pretty and I’ve taken a while to make sure the words flow and roll off the tongue before I get to the meat of what I want to say. Today, I’m just going right into it.

I heard something this year that changed everything for me. It really shifted the way I operate. Honestly a lot of things have changed internally for me this year. I’ve had a lot of shifts in the way I move in this world, in my relation to other people, in my belief system, in my foundation. Things that had been engrained into who I was for so long, just shifted this year. I was a people- pleaser that would bend over backwards for people and I really let it bother me if someone didn’t like me. I would argue with people about things that I realized (now) was actually me fighting myself internally for feeling the same way. You know they say how people are often a mirror into yourself? Yeah, really didn’t get that until this year. I would fight for things and people that were not fighting for me back. I apologized for things that weren’t mine to apologize for or blame myself for things that were so out of my control. I didn’t understand the tools I needed to stand with strength within my anxiety. And I loved in a way I thought was the right way to love. Not anymore.

And then in an interview with Jay Shetty I heard Sophia Bush say this about people that haven’t shown up for her:

I’m like…oh I see. And that’s okay, but I operate differently. And If I give of myself this way and you don’t give of yourself in return, that’s fine. You do you. But I only have so much of this to give.

I heard that and everything clicked for me. If you are showing up for someone and giving of yourself and they can’t show up for you and give of themselves in the same capacity…they’re not for you. That goes for relationships, friendships, and even work-related scenarios. If someone or something doesn’t see your worth and isn’t working for it like you are, let that weight go. I drastically turned a corner when I heard that. I just don’t have the time or energy to devote to anything or anyone that can’t show up for me in the same way and I don’t hold space for that anymore. I would often get lost in the dance between having empathy and having no boundaries. I always wanted to take the path of being understanding, being kind and helpful, etc. but that turned into me ultimately setting myself aside. Now I’ve reached a point of no return where I absolutely fucking refuse to show up for people/things or hold space for them or meet their needs if they can’t do the same for me. Y’all…I did this shit all the time and I feel so passionate about it now because this, this work, is what it means to be a better version of yourself and these were things I didn’t. even. know. I. was. constantly. doing.

I always operated from a perspective of: well I’ll just go the extra mile. Someone has to right? No. You can work really hard at things, but you don’t have to be the one to always go the extra mile. A simple example: over the span of a year I went to visit someone six times when I was in a LDR. They came to visit me twice, and once was for an event they had to attend. Ultimately I don’t regret the decisions I made because it taught me the lessons I needed to learn and that’s just one example I realized of all the little ways I didn’t set boundaries, didn’t show up for MYSELF. I can’t take full responsibility in that example, but what I do recognize is that it was my responsibility to show up for myself in that scenario and set a boundary. It was up to ME and no one else to recognize that no matter what the reasons were, no matter what was said, I wasn’t being shown up for in the same capacity. But I continued to give and give and give. I didn’t expect the same in return and what I realized was I absolutely should’ve. This is what it means when people say know your worth. It means knowing your worth even in the face of good people. Often times that’s when it’s the hardest to, because your mind is always going to try to rationalize it first.

You only know what you know in the moment (like that saying you grow through what you go through) but sometimes I look back at myself like…what in the actual fuck Sam. I used to even still think about friendships that ended years ago and be really sad about it, even if I was the one to distance myself. Or even if I was flaked on a million times, lied to, etc. WHY. Why waste that energy of this beautiful life we’re given? And maybe along the way people have felt that way about me. The thing is, that’s fine. Not everyone is going to be for you. I’m not for everyone either. This newfound lens on life made me realize I can appreciate things for what it was, but ultimately they weren’t showing up for me in the same capacity. Why waste any more energy thinking about it? Sometimes we have to make space for the right things to come into our lives. I recently read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and the whole premise is not about entirely not giving a fuck at all about everything, it’s about choosing very intentionally what to care about, what to spend your energy on.

And once I started to practice not caring about being “nice” to everyone in lieu of holding space for myself, not worrying what people will think, not worrying over losing anyone (because you’re not gonna lose what’s meant for you, and nothing is permanent), and being so confident in myself and what I want, it becomes a lot easier to walk away from anything or anyone that’s just not for me. If someone doesn’t like you? If you don’t get the work opportunity you really wanted? If your friend flakes on you 100 times? If your boss says you are valuable but can’t show the actions that match the words? We have to face those things with an attitude of, “Okay, show me something better.” If your boss or your friend or your relationship really can’t see your worth: “Okay, show me something better.” You don’t need anyone to like you. You do not NEED anyone; a friend, an acquaintance, a coworker, a family member to like you in order to live your life.

This year I told someone after talking to them for a bit that I thought we should just be friends because I really didn’t see it going any further. I wanted to be as real with them as possible. I told my therapist that I didn’t like the feeling of them being mad at me and not liking me for that. And she said, “why do you need them to like you? What’s the worst that will happen if they don’t like you because of that?” and then I realized uh duh, it doesn’t matter. I showed up for myself, faced them and was honest, and knew what I wanted, and if they don’t like me for being as authentic as I could be, I really can’t spend my energy caring about that.

You don’t need that exact single work opportunity, because if it’s not working out, there is another door that will open for you. Believe people’s ACTIONS, not their words. Believing only what someone says they want to do, or will do, etc. is getting lost in their potential. I’ve made that mistake too. And getting lost in someone’s POTENTIAL to show up for you is a slippery slope because you will continually give and give and give with the hope that they will meet you in that same place, even if they’ve said they will. We make space for people who are takers when we give with no standard for what we receive back. I’m not saying this is a matter of keeping score, it’s not a tit-for-tat “formula,” but being aware of believing people’s action and not their potential, means you intentionally make space for people in your life that can show up for you in the same capacity as you do. I think you can still be kind, and empathetic, AND still know that you operate a little differently. We can recognize that it’s completely fine for people to only give a certain amount, show up a certain amount, be vulnerable a certain amount, etc…but it’s in the recognizing of: that’s fine if that’s what you want and that’s how you operate, you do you, but that’s not for me. I operate differently and deserve to be shown up for in a greater capacity. 

I heard Glennon Doyle say: “What keeps people from a true and beautiful life isn’t pain and drama…it’s the good enough.”

I would rather do anything than live a life that’s good enough, than have a partner who shows up for me a good enough amount, than have friendships that are good enough, than have ambitions that are good enough. I want true, 100% wholehearted everything. I’d rather go through hard things with that in mind and feel 100% fulfilled than exist in the realm of mediocrity. And I hope you’ll stray from the good enough too.

reframing thoughts
Coming Back to a Reframing 768 1024 samantha

Coming Back to a Reframing

Much of this year has been about a reframing of things. A reframing of our thoughts. A reframing of our vision of what we thought this year would look like. A reframing of how we look at everything we’ve gone through in this tumultuous year, and even in our lives.

reframing thoughtsGetting outdoors has been so freeing for me this year. It has filled my cup up more than I know how to express. Being in nature always allows me to pause, to breathe in the little things, to acknowledge life as it is in that moment, and even sometimes to shift my perspective. In those moments when I’m away from the busy routines of everyday life, it feels like a coming home to what really matters most in life. I will look back on this year and know for me it was the year I said yes to every outdoor adventure opportunity that came my way. Next month I officially get my scuba diving license and I was almost convinced to go skydiving. Almost.

Last month I went to Big Sur and camped on a ridge 45 minutes up a mountain, high above the cloud cover. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and I enjoyed every second of that trip. I had been talking about going to Big Sur for years now, and as a California native, I truly have no explanation for why I hadn’t been yet. It was so nice not to have service, to completely disconnect. To make new friends with strangers. To watch the most memorable sunset and have the best sleep in a tent I’ve ever had. I remember we were watching the sunset amongst strangers and everyone was so grateful to be there witnessing nature do her thing. I felt so grateful for life in those moments and so unencumbered by anything else.

But the everyday-ness of our lives sometimes still find ways to seep in during those moments of isolated clarity. Somehow a text from my boss had gotten through the no-service zone. My brain automatically went into stress mode, thinking about anything that might need my attention at work. I didn’t even bring my laptop in the car so that I could properly disconnect. Did I accidentally cause myself more stress by so intentionally disconnecting? By not tuning in to any of my responsibilities on this trip, would it be worse come Monday? Was disconnecting and relaxing actually just avoiding the reality of work and life? But just as quickly as the stress came on, I came back to something so relevant for me this year. A reframing.

Something someone taught me this year that’s been so transformative is how to reframe our thoughts. Instead of me looking at reframing thoughtsmy weekend away as me “disconnecting at first, but only for things to be so hectic come Monday,” I reframed it to: this rest is necessary for me to go back to work fully charged and with energy to begin again.

When I can feel my energy shift, feel the future-stressing creep in, feel that some anxiety is coming on, this reframing perspective has changed the way I look at things. It’s about asking myself: how else can I think about xyz, that still rings true for me?

Reframing is a tool though, not a crutch. And reframing isn’t supposed to take the place of a gut reaction to something you know doesn’t align with your highest good. I can reframe some things that have happened to me this year as necessary for my growth and necessary to level up, instead of a waste of time. Recognizing the positive shift from a negative thought that doesn’t really serve me to a more appropriate thought that feels forward moving is powerful. It’s amazing what you can train your brain to do. But I try to be mindful of that power of shifting thoughts vs. not listening my gut feeling of: this (fill in the blank) really doesn’t feel good to me, but it’s necessary to listen to that gut feeling.

Like I said back in March, life is FOR you. So if I can find a way to reframe things that align with me and that make me feel good, that’s exactly what I’ll do to give it my best efforts to stay present and peaceful.

The magic of the rest of this year 997 1024 samantha

The magic of the rest of this year

You know when Joey from Friends tells Chandler, “HEY opposite…IS OPPOSITE!”

That’s all I can think about when I think of the second half of this year. I’m going out on a limb to declare it’s going to be everything the first half wasn’t and I’m SO so excited for everything that is in store for the rest of this year! I can’t wait to share more.

Not only as a collective are we making huge shifts and giant strides of change, but I believe so many of us have moved beyond being JUST self aware, but we’re self aware and doing something about it. In addition to the greater lessons on race our country needs to learn (and re-learn again and again), something the Black Lives Matter movement has taught all of us is that we have the beautiful ability to stop, listen, learn, and change– again both collectively and individually. How else will we grow if we don’t stop to acknowledge the places in which we fall short and can do better? The amazing change being created in the world and the affirmation that our voices are being heard are filled with so much hope in my opinion. I’m committed to observing myself and how I can do better both as an individual and in relation to the world.

I can’t stop smiling when thinking about the magic of everything to come!

I wasn’t as active on this blog/website the past year and I’m feeling drawn to write more on this platform and share my musings to connect with you. I’d love to hear from you so feel free to reach out!

SamChat: On Crisis: Life Is For You, Not Against You 1000 667 samantha

SamChat: On Crisis: Life Is For You, Not Against You

Writing is the one thing I always return to. It’s always been the constant in my life; the safe place to return to no matter what. This pandemic that is sweeping the world has given us a lot of food for thought and I wanted to share mine.

For one, I know we all didn’t think back in January we would be here now…but that’s the thing. We didn’t think we would be here, and yet here we are. And life is sort of like that, right? Sometimes never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be standing in a dark room, the unknown extending in every direction. Sometimes we find ourselves hit with the sobering truth that we are in a position we would’ve bet our life on not being in. We find ourselves thinking: how did I get here?

This week as we’re knee deep in true social distancing, away from friends, co-workers, and often family, we’re faced with the reality of this situation. This virus is more than just “a cold,” it’s more than the celebrity that goes on social media to tell us to stay home; this virus is sinking its teeth into the people of our country that never knew what was coming until it was too late. This virus is taking the life and soul of humans around the world and we all know how tragic that is. But the question is how are we allowing that truth to affect us? I can say I personally don’t know anyone who has died from the virus or who has had to spend days in the ICU because of it. But those humans exist. There ARE people out there who can say they personally know someone. People are out there right now who are losing their best friend, their dad, their neighbor, their grandma, the love of their life to this virus. And if they were standing right in front of us, what do you think they would tell us?

I imagine they would tell us to take this pandemic seriously, beyond doing our part of social distancing. I imagine they would tell us beyond hand sanitizing and at-home workouts and TikTok videos (guilty) and happy hour Zoom calls, they would tell us to for one day, one week, stop scrolling on our phones for hours on end, stop binge watching Netflix, and ask yourself: what is this pandemic teaching you on a soul level? It’s not that these things are negative, I believe connecting virtually with our friends during this time is bringing us that connectedness we love. But it’s so easy to ignore life lessons even when they’re screaming at us in the face. If we sat in silence and tried to listen to the greater wisdom this situation is shaking us to see, what would that be?

It’s not a mistake that we’ve been forced into some form of isolation. It’s not a mistake this has happened to our world, that we’ve been forced to slow down, to pause. We are at our worst when we do not understand ourselves and sometimes we need the noise of the world to quiet down so we can stop piling on external distractions and do the inner work that we’ve been avoiding for far too long. If we want to understand our anxiety more we have to do the work. If we want to get a grip on our procrastination of (insert: your health, your emotional avoidance, your novel, your job change, your schedule, your renewed partnership, your joy) we have to do the work. Life can change all around us, but only we can change what is within us. And “doing the work” looks different for everyone. For some it will look like slowing down, being still, on actually not doing anything. For others it will look like taking a forward moving action.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for so long and recently before this pandemic really hit hard, it got to the point for me where I was like, I just do not want to do this any longer. That is not the person I want to be in life. So, I committed to changing and it’s hard work, it’s not gone overnight, but instead of being so wrapped up in the anxiety, in the fear, in the worry, I decided to go to work on changing it. I found the right help, the right tools, the right people to talk to (outside my mom). I got so so committed that I’m starting to see change, I’m starting to feel lighter. And what comes to mind for me is, that’s how life should be too, right? The only way to get through fear, to get through change, or to implement it, is to stop resisting it and take accountability. We should be so committed to truly living life and soaking up the joy and not taking it for granted. We get so caught up in the fight or flight mentality, that 99% of the time we choose flight. I know I do. But this is a time for us to look inside ourselves at old patterns that don’t serve us well and start to choose differently.

And that’s the thing: in this isolation we’re finally being asked to sit with everything we don’t want to face, everything we want to run from. For some, this will hit harder than others. Every one is at a different place in their lives and this will feel heavier to some than it will for others. And truly, I hope that it feels lighter for you more than it does heavy. Some of you will read this and know exactly what it is you’ve been avoiding, know exactly what it is you’ve locked away to deal with later, and it’s no coincidence that you’ve been gifted with a time of isolation to finally deal with it. Some of you will read this and not have something hit your heart immediately. You might think, “wow how can you get so deep in this, just get your work done from home and drink some wine.” Don’t worry, that’s definitely happening. But maybe you’ll ponder for a little bit on what this means for you: maybe it’s calling your sister to rekindle your friendship, maybe it’s finally cleaning something out in your house, maybe it’s not working soul sucking hours anymore to focus on yourself, maybe it’s finally resting and not feeling guilty for it, maybe it’s just about promising yourself to think of three things you’re grateful for every day and complain a little less.

Like the amazing Julie Day says: life is FOR you, not against you. 

Soon enough the dust will settle and we’ll be able to look back on these weeks, maybe months, to ask ourselves: so, what is for us? What does bring us joy? Who does make us feel like home? What do we want to make more time for to simply enjoy in our life? How can we laugh more and worry less? Now that we had time to sit in our thoughts, to sit with everything, how can we slow down and cherish life more? How can we start living life forwards now that we took time to deal with the things that we had been sitting on? I’m already seeing this pandemic create a stronger appreciation for connection, which is so beautiful during a time of physical disconnection.

There is a purpose in every season and this season is a wakeup call for us on a national level and on an individual level. We will forever be changed by this season, and if life is for us, and not against us, like a gardener that must shear the vines, it’s time to get rid of everything that is not for us anymore. Dreams that have changed and made way for new ones, old thought patterns, bad tempers, one-sided friendships, internal walls, bad habits that hold us back, you name it. Change is extremely hard for me and yet at the same time, I learn from it. When I find myself in places thinking: how did I get here? How did this happen? I get past some of the emotion and just start shedding things. I’ve dropped so many things these past couple of weeks that weren’t serving me anymore: a job, setting aside something I thought I wanted in my career, things that were holding me back from being better (hello, anxiety). Here are some truth bombs:

The book will not write itself for you.

Your health will not improve itself for you magically.

Your happiness will not improve itself for you while you let your mind work against it or while you’re busy blaming others for the absence of it.

It starts within you, within us. This isn’t really about putting pressure on ourselves during this quarantine to achieve lofty goals by the time it’s over. it’s about: what do you observe about yourself during this pause? What will you do with that?

And I know it’s not easy. There are some things people are struggling with I can’t even begin to understand. I think we have to work at it every day and I’m really not saying any of this from a place of knowing better than anyone else reading this. I’m saying this from a place of…let’s encourage each other, be there for one another, appreciate one another even in the midst of becoming better. We can’t change others, but we can focus on ourselves. When we work through things we become more self-aware and hopefully we become lighter.

My hope is that we come out of this radically grateful for everything in life, the good and the hard. All of it matters. My hope is that we are ecstatically joyful for everything it has to offer. My hope is that we have the courage to change. Soon enough eating at a restaurant with your favorite people will have so much more meaning. Seeing your best friend will be something you won’t take for granted. The privilege to exercise in a gym won’t go unnoticed. The trip you finally book will be treasured so much more. The sweet texts, the little things your loved one does for you will be held close. I know for me I will cherish all the ways my friends and family show up for me going forward because these past few weeks have put so much into perspective.

In our busy frantic lives, this is a message to love more, fear less, and charge into the unknown. Drop the weight, stay in the present, stay in the joy. A fulfilling, happy life doesn’t happen on accident.

The thing is no matter what happens, we’re going to look back and think: wow, now I see the perfection in that time apart from everyone. We’ll look back and say of course that had to happen because we are better for it. We have to trust the process and trust ourselves. Life isn’t always fair or easy, but I guess what I’m getting at is it can be lighter. And it’s still your life.

This is about the gift of having a life at all. And that’s what I think a person would tell you if they lost someone to this virus.

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SamChat: The Rose, Bud, and Thorn of “Later”

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the idea of “later.”

I’ve been reflecting on my growth as an individual these past few years and I think, as many of us do, that we spend a lot of our lives waiting for later. When I think about the various growing pains of my life and how waiting for that often distant future comes into play, it’s clear that the idea of later has been and continues to be both a blessing−a comforting idea to hold onto−and a vice, doing nothing but blocking our successes.

Everything I’ve ever wanted has been on the other side of later. There’s a long laundry list of items that are just out of reach, that linger in that later period.

If you’re in the film industry, we can agree that it’s the toughest industry to break into. It’s even tougher fighting against the mental timeline we gave ourselves at some point. However long I thought it might take to get noticed in the film industry as a writer, an actor, a producer, a creator… I should’ve doubled that. Maybe even tripled it. “Return to the work. Just keep coming back to the work,” is an all too familiar mantra. It’s about the passion and love we have for the work, yes, but it’s also our lives. It’s  the uphill battle of trying to wrap our heads around the dance of livelihood and craft, survival and passion. For those of you who read this and instantly feel that painful pull in your stomach, nodding your head in agreement with this struggle, you’re not alone. We know that all too familiar pain of watching someone the same age as us getting to live out our dreams. Comparison is the thief of joy but there are days that are so much harder to keep our heads down and focus on the work, and that’s the truth.

I’ll be able to get an agent later when I have enough footage on my reel, enough credits, enough training. “Just book a couple guest-star roles on television and come back later.”

I’ll be able to send my screenplays out to the industry later. But first, “Do you have an agent?”

I’ll be able to start production on my web series later. But first, I’ll need to find funding.

I’ll be able to grow my blog into something bigger (whatever that meant at the time), but not right now. For now, I’ll just share my thoughts, figure out my most authentic self and what I want to share on this platform.

I’ll get a better job later when I’m able to find the perfect balance between what I’m doing now and what I want to do.

But no matter what industry you’re in or what your passions are or what your life looks like right now, I know you can relate to this. As time goes on I realize the only thing standing in between later and RIGHT NOW is me. I believe wholeheartedly in creating opportunities for ourselves and every day that I don’t take one small step towards my goals, every day that I put things off for later, is a missed-opportunity, a missed-connection, another step in the mud slowing me down.

The longer we tell ourselves that we will start taking forward-moving action toward our dreams later, the closer we get to never. But the biggest thorn in my side is that later has never been my first choice, yet often my only choice. I don’t think we should make later the starting point for our goals and dreams, but even when we give it all we’ve got…later is still the best we will get in return and sometimes it’s about being okay with that. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? This has been one of the most frustrating things in the world. I can’t say I haven’t resented later, but sometimes, later is exactly what we are supposed to wait for. Like my acting teacher Stephen says: the path you choose is the journey you take.

So, in this funny, kind of lovely, catch-22 of later, waiting for things I want has also taught me so many lessons about being patient and believing with the utmost conviction in my purpose and plan. It’s taught me so much about believing wholeheartedly that everything happens for a reason and this is my “bud” of later.

This year later has also become the place I find solace in. Knowing that good things will come later if I can stick it out through tough seasons is comforting and hopeful. Knowing that if I put time and effort into my relationship, my friendships, my projects…what I so desire in later will come, likely without me even being aware that it actually transformed into the present.

This year when my relationship was thrown into navigating living in different cities, I wasn’t sure how to face the mountain of later. How would I deal with this new terrain of not only being unsure of what later looks like, but having the patience to sit in this season of unknowns? I’ve learned so much about having faith in that later period. Putting time and effort into a relationship where you don’t live in the same city means that the time when you’ll get to be together later is what keeps you going, is what keeps you happy, is a comforting place to look forward to. Supporting each other wholeheartedly, rooting for one another’s success and individuality in life, and still knowing that you will come together later is beautiful. Dealing with later has shown me now more than ever to be present. It’s not easy, but every day I’m learning not to worry so much about later. And so, in these trials of life, I flip the coin over and see the silver linings in later.

Later has been the thorn in my side and the muck I’ve had to wade through to understand that now is as important as ever. In realizing that, later has also been my rose, my small little win, and my bud, a new idea that’s blossomed into something much greater. Later has also taught me that when everything is right, the things in my life eventually do fall into place and invest back into me, love me, and open up towards me just as strongly as I wanted them to. They will for you, too. There are lessons in life we will learn over and over and over again. This is one of them. We just have to be patient and wait it out for when later becomes now.

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Your Focus Creates Your Feeling

I am someone who fully believes that change and growth is needed to continue to be the best version of yourself, but change can still be a hard thing sometimes. When things are going good in your life and you have a nice routine going, who really wants change?

I’ve struggled with anxiety for a few years now and only within this past year have I truly started to understand how my thinking can change my emotional world.

My anxiety really started in college. It’s not that any single decision I made or new experience I was going through was particularly bad, but it started when I was hit with the realization that for once, I wasn’t completely sure what path I was taking or what was ahead. I stressed HARD on the what-ifs, lost sleep on whether I was making the right life decisions, and my body was physically struggling to keep up with me. When I felt riddled with anxiety, it’s like my mind hyper-focuses on all the negatives. For a little while it feels like things are just not going to get better. No, it’s not like over-thinking something. With anxiety, it feels like being thrown into a panic to try to solve a Rubik’s cube, only the harder you try to solve it, the worse it becomes.

I took time to sit and get honest with myself (and through too many phone calls with my personal on-call 24/7 therapist: my mom). What I’ve learned this year that truly has changed my way of thinking is this: my focus creates my feeling. Whatever holds our attention, molds our intention.  

It might sound so obvious, but for the most part we can control our thoughts. (This is of course with respect to any mental illness that simply doesn’t allow that). It’s crazy when I stop to think that I have the ability to stop myself when I’m sitting there thinking of all the possible things that can go wrong. When life seems to come to a halt and a dark cloud lingers over and all we can do is replay a little movie in our head with something negative or bad, we have the ability to think: ‘No. I’m not going to think that way. Instead, I’m going to dwell on all the positive outcomes that could happen and be grateful for all the good things in my life.’ My focus creates my feeling.

When I feel such anxiety over the what-ifs or play negative conversations or situations in my head that couldhappen, I realize I have the power to change that. I can immediately stop and tell my mind: ‘you’re better than that.’ Sometimes when I have anxiety, I truly couldn’t even tell you why. This sinking feeling hits me and I’m hard pressed to figure out what the heck is going on. But instead of feeling like I’m sinking, I actively tell myself to change my thoughts.

I stumbled across this verse from Philippians 4:8. Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, this is a sweet little reminder to dwell on the positive things when you’re feeling low.

“Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

 This is no easy task, though. It’s hard to block out the negative downward spiral when anxiety hits, and even harder to convince yourself to start dwelling on the positives. But through trial and error I’ve found that if I can tell myself, “you are okay, right here, right now,” I can usually lead myself to think about the positive things happening in my day or my life. That switch from worry and fear to gratitude may not solve everything 100%, but it leads me back to the present.

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Interview with Voyage LA Mag #TrailBlazers

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being interviewed by Voyage LA Mag as part of their #ValleyTrailblazers series. I was so excited when they reached out to me for the opportunity to tell part of my story, my goals, and my inspiration. When they told me that their goal is to help hard-working, inspiring people tell their stories authentically and in their own words, I said count me in! Below is the article published on their website. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Skelton.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

I’m an LA native – born and raised! I’ve come to realize how rare that is with the industry that I’m in. Aside from running this blog, I’m also an actor and screenwriter.

I had wanted to start a blog for the longest time, but just never had time in college. I majored in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge. College was an amazing experience for me and taught me so much. As soon as I graduated, I pursued everything I’m passionate about with full speed. That meant acting, screenwriting, and starting my blog.

I finally landed on The Constant Creative because I feel like that’s how much of my life is. I’m constantly doing something– writing a new script, collaborating with others to create short films, diving into new books, always pushing myself in some new direction, and for the longest time, I also had an Etsy shop.

Has it been a smooth road?

I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit about me — I made a powerpoint presentation when I was 8 years old for my parents about why I should be allowed to go around to my neighbors selling Christmas stationary! So, I think I was bound to embark on other ventures like this someday, ha!

But, of course, nothing is ever easy. I’m constantly learning new things, always evolving. I don’t think I will ever stop learning in any area.

When I started my blog, it was in conjunction with my Etsy shop. I had an Etsy shop since 2013 where I sold handmade typewriter quote cards and I really thought creating my own website/blog would help business for my Etsy shop. Eventually, I learned that I was being pulled in too many directions, and if I had to pick… my energy was better spent on the things I’m most passionate about. This year, I closed my Etsy shop to focus on my acting but I still love having my blog. It’s a great way to connect with other like-minded women, meet new people, and learn new things.

My advice for other young women that want to start their own blog or business, or maybe who are hesitating to go after something they want is just to START. Just begin. The only way you will know if something is right for you or not is to try it out. It’s not the end of the world if you go in another direction. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. As long as you’re taking action somehow, you’re forward moving.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Constant Creative story. Tell us more about the business.

I started The Constant Creative to ignite a fire in people and leave them feeling more inspired than when I found them. I also started it to connect with other creative people in the online community. We all leave a legacy, whether it’s on the big screen or tucked away on the internet through a little blog. I truly love that one is not more significant than the other.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?

Something I talked about on my Instagram recently was the idea of an abundance mindset vs. a scarcity mindset. I think so often women are viewed as being standoff-ish towards other women or the media pits women against each other. I see so much opportunity for women to share the wisdom they’ve learned so far and then collaborate to make something great. Everything is not a competition.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Laci Havens Photography

What It's Really Like Being an On-Camera Host
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Sam Chat: What It’s Really Like Being an On-Camera Host

This past year I’ve had the amazing opportunity to act as the On-Camera Host for Shea Properties. It was completely new territory for me that I was excited to navigate and I truly had no idea what to expect. It has opened many doors for me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, scared me a little, allowed me to work with a great team, and had me livin’ my best life at times eating ice cream as my job! If you’re interested, feel free to watch some of my interviews!

When I was younger I always thought it would be cool to be a news reporter or to interview people on the red carpet. I had no idea I would end up having a job doing something similar and find it to be SUCH a fun, rewarding experience!

What it's Really Like Being an On-Camera Host

The Job: What do I actually do?

When I tell people that I’m the on-camera host for the media team of a real estate company, I usually get a confused look. I get it! It’s not something you hear every day. I tell people it’s like E-news! Except I’m not reporting on celebrities. What I do is introduce retail shopping centers from Shea Properties and tell everyone all about what that specific center has to offer. So I’ll tell you all about what stores and restaurants their shopping center in Laguna Beach has or what their center in San Diego can offer. The cool part about the job is we then go to each restaurant, clothing store, etc. and interview the owner or chef and talk to them about their specific place as well as what they think is so great about that retail center.

Typically I’m given the “script” the day before or sometimes even the morning of to go over and memorize. This includes an introduction to the center, a line or two about following us on social media, and then introduction lines to each store. We usually come up with specific interview questions right before the interview so we can get an idea of what the store owners or restaurants also want to highlight.

The Perks

I have to say that we have a great team! It makes being an on-camera host that much easier and more fun when you can laugh with your crew! We’ve had lots of laughs when I was about to introduce a store and a motorcycle drives by, car alarm goes off, plane flies overhead, etc. and we bust up laughing and have to start over.

One of the best parts of the job is that after interviewing say a restaurant chef for example,  I get to try all the food! Our camera guy will film the food for promotion as well as me trying it. Let me tell you, it is not easy trying to eat huge sushi rolls gracefully on camera!

It’s fun getting to be really interactive with the people I’m interviewing, which can be anything from trying on/modeling clothes from a boutique store or taste testing beer at a brewery.

Why this job inspires me

I really enjoy talking to people and it’s amazing to see why so many of these people felt the need to open up a gelato shop, for example. So many of the people I interview are more than shop owners or restaurant owners. They saw a need for something in their community and wanted to be the one to provide it. They have a passion for starting their business and I think that’s something we can all appreciate!

The Nitty Gritty

Here are some things I never realized until I started this job.

  • Some people are HIGHLY uncomfortable being on camera and it’s my job to make them feel comfortable. That means smiling through any awkwardness and trying to think of questions off-hand. We did have someone who ended up backing out of an interview due to being so uncomfortable on-camera. I will say that we usually prepare most questions beforehand so we don’t have to cut too many videos together but it helps to be able to come up with questions.
  • You have to smile bigger and talk louder than it seems like you are. When I first started they had to tell me to smile bigger many times because on-camera it wasn’t coming across as much as I thought it was!
  • Being in heels for 8 hours is no fun
  • It was a habit to nod my head throughout the interview which I’ve learned to tone down a lot.
  • The clothes! I had to find bright professional attire with no patterns that might clash on camera and had to be sure not to repeat outfits too often!

Overall this has been a great experience and has prepared me for future on-camera hosting or interviewing! I don’t know where this path will take me, but I’m excited to continue along and have fun working as their host! I hope you found this post helpful if you’re considering doing something similar or if you have any questions feel free to contact me or DM me on Instagram!

If you liked this blog, check out my other SamChats here.

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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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