Category Archives: Encouragement

Picture the Face of Freedom

Picture the face of freedom for one moment. Don’t give it a passing glance, but let’s carve out a piece of time for it in this life, this brief walk often burdened with sorrow, anger, and pain, this flickering flame bursting also with joy, laughter, and the love of family, friends, neighbors, even passing strangers.

Stare into freedom’s eyes and listen to what it has to say, to offer, to what it can show us, the most integral part of not only its survival, but also its triumph.

Freedom is waking up alive in the morning and moving through the start of the day without worrying whether we’ll return home alive after we’ve stepped out the door, gone to work or school, after we’ve completed our day. It’s embracing our loved ones without fearing for their lives, without thinking, “Will she come home? Will I have to claim his body? Will they be safe?”

Instead, our thoughts are full with the nuances of life, of what we need to accomplish, of where we need to go, of what we hope to realize for our loved ones and ourselves.

Freedom is reading and watching the news and seeing justice paid in full, of trusting the collective conscience of our fellow citizens, not only a faction. It’s everyone agreeing we must hold those in power responsible for the grievances and sufferings of our fellow neighbors, no matter how they identify.

It’s making sure there are concrete consequences for breaking that sacred trust, that unspoken pact among humans to do no harm, to be free and let others be free.

If we doubt our neighbor, if we fear or hate those who call the same country home, this planet home, we’re not free; we don’t know freedom.

Freedom is pursuing life without fear.

It’s not holding our stomach from hunger pains, or struggling to feed ourselves or loved ones. It’s not dying from lack of access to healthcare, or having nothing because we gave everything we had to stay alive one more day, only to realize this extra day holds no hope or purpose. It’s not being forced to make decisions detrimental to our well being or that of others, of people we love, in order to survive in a system, in a government determined to destroy us, in a government insistent on stalling our progress and that of our children and grandchildren. Freedom isn’t losing our human dignity because we had no one or nothing.

Freedom is receiving an education liberating our minds, instead of confining our hands.

Freedom is having one more chance even when we make minor mistakes. It’s restoration, not eternal damnation.

Freedom is knowing compassion and giving compassion.

We may think we have freedom if we enjoy the comforts of financial security, supportive family and friends, and shelter from the attacks thrown at our less privileged neighbors. Insulated from the cries of the outside world, from the cries coming from our own backyard, we move through life, deaf and blind, silent to the sufferings of our fellow citizens, or worse, defending those in power who oppress and harm them. Instead of placing our trust in our our fellow humans, we’ve placed your trust in the system, in the powers that have time and time again broken the sacred pact to protect, serve, and uplift.

And because those in power have not paid the high price of abusing that sacred human pact, we shake our heads in shock as the world deteriorates, as freedom wanders farther and farther away from humanity, as more and more people grow angry and restless, some resorting to atrocious acts of violence because that bill has not been paid, an amount counted not in dollars but in the bodies of innocents.

Picture the face of freedom. See it clearly. Grasp its possibilities. Hear what it offers. And know that we do not have freedom.

Because as long as the cries of our fellow woman, man, child, our fellow humans, rises to the skies unheard, without receiving justice long overdue, we will never know freedom.

We only have an illusion of it as our mind and soul is wracked with the guilt of our inaction. An illusion feeding on hopelessness, disdain for humanity, and a lack of vision. Feeding on lies manufactured by those in power. Feeding on our stubbornness to not stare freedom in the face and imagine a future where freedom is finally real in the lives of the people.

Picture the face of freedom. And know and believe it’s worth fighting for.

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

Howdy Folks,

I hope this post can encourage you in your own journey in this confusing as hell experience called life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what did I do?

I applied for a teaching job in Aichi, Japan.

Toyokawa Inari Temple
Toyokawa Inari Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

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Be sure to look out for my e-book, The Passionate Dreamer’s Notebook: For Those Who Refuse to Quit, coming out soon!