Samara O'Shea

Archive for November, 2008

Fireside Chats are Bringing Sexy Back!

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

And in true 21st-Century fashion, they’ll be appearing weekly on YouTube. As I arrived at The Huffington Post this morning, the first headline I saw was Obama Announces Plan to Create 2.5 Million Jobs. Naturally, I was curious and followed the link to a video, which opens with a graphic that says: YOUR WEEKLY ADDRESS FROM THE PRESIDENT ELECT. I went to Obama’s Web site only to discover that this was actually unveiled last Saturday (the 15th), so I’m a little late in my discovery but am still very excited. This means that the President is going to fill the people in on his thoughts, feelings, plans, and ideas. He’ll inevitably have to break bad news to us once in a while, too. But that’s better than, “We haven’t really heard from the White House. . .”

The President of the United States has addressed the nation in a radio broadcast since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats began in 1933. Or so I’m told. I’ve never heard one, but I also never went out of my way to listen. When FDR did it, radios were the main form of communication. Now who listens to them? In steps Obama. In addition to appearing on the radio weekly, Obama’s “chats” will also appear on YouTube. So we can all gather round the MAC Powerbook on cold winter nights, listen to what the President has to say, and then watch Dick in a Box—just for fun. All sarcasm aside, I think this great presidential practice has gotten a much-needed electronic update.

The segment is just under four minutes and, no, Obama doesn’t promise 2.5 million jobs by New Year’s 2009 but rather New Year’s 2011, which is hard to hear but much more reasonable. FUN FACT: Obama’s first two addresses regard the flailing economy, and FDR’s first Fireside Chat was called On the Bank Crisis, March 12, 1933.

Putting Things in Perspective

Monday, November 17th, 2008

May I take a moment to say that I love my job—technically my side job. I was having a semi-bad day yesterday. I say semi because nothing was wrong on the outside. The weather was gorgeous, and the people were kind. It was my insides that were feeling like a crooked picture on the wall. Not shattered on the floor, mind you. Just crooked. Then I received a letter request from a woman. She wanted me to write a letter on her behalf to the officials at an adoption agency. She has been trying for years to have children to no avail and has decided—in her mid-forties—to adopt. Bless her heart! Suddenly this put every problem I thought I had into perspective. I realized that I had nothing to feel crooked about. I humbly wrote her letter admiring her courage to move forward even though circumstance hasn’t been very considerate. I truly hope she is soon united with a child who she can spoil with love.

Question #14

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Damn! It looks like I can’t apply for a position in the Obama cabinet after all. Let’s ignore for a moment that I am not qualified to do such a thing. Let’s imagine I’m a little older and have a hearty political resume, here’s what would stop me in my tracks: Question # 14 on the seven-page questionnaire being distributed by the office of the President-elect.

(14) Diaries: If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.

Why yes I have! And it’s already been published so there’s no hiding it now.

According to the New York Times, “The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.”

Wow! I applied for a job a week or so ago and I got upset when they asked me if I was a smoker. I am not a smoker, but I still don’t think that’s any of their business.

I understand the Obama administration is learning from the mistakes of past presidents by asking these invasive questions, but if they’re looking for perfect people they’re never going to find them. We’ve all fallen short of the glory. Even Obama himself has come clean about experimenting with cocaine as a young man.

I actually don’t blame the elected-administration for this as much as I blame the media. We live in a world where everything is fair game. There once was a time when a president could have an affair—think FDR and JFK—and the press would turn a blind eye out respect for the office of the president. Although being unfaithful to a spouse is nothing to be proud of, I don’t think it affects the president’s ability to govern and therefore it’s not the business of the people. It all changed with Nixon. What Nixon was doing was absolutely the business of the people, and the press called him on it. Shortly there after the press started calling every president on wayward decision and, as a result, we had to sit through Blow Job 101 during the Clinton era.

So yes, the president-elect has every right to ask about all the professional mishaps of his potential employees. Yet he’s asking about the personal calamities, too, because he’s been given no choice.

Read the NY Times article here.

A Difference in Opinion

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

I received an interesting e-mail this past week. A gentleman named Jean wrote saying he read my book and enjoyed some parts but strongly disagreed with the following statement:

I’ll tell you upfront a journal isn’t a road map. It can’t be. A journal, rather, is the path of pebbles you leave behind you so you have the security of knowing you can always return to where you’ve been.

We went back and forth over this a few times, and I thought I’d share the exchange in case anyone else had the same wonderment as Jean.

Jean to Samara

Hi, I am Jean Wildjean and I have been journaling for 34 years longer than you have been alive. I started keeping a journal long before anyone had written a book on journaling- before it was COOL to keep a journal or diary. I am reading your book and there is a lot of good in it but I have to say that I strongly disagree with your statement that your journal is NOT your life map nor should it be. As I said, I have been journaling for a very long time and I very much use mine as a life map. I plan my life in my journal but keep in mind, nothing is written in stone so of course things can and do change. I look back to see which goals I carried through on and which ones changed. Most that changed were someone else’s doing not mine. I would still choose the jobs I did and do it over again but sometimes your employer has other ideas.
I did not plan to adopt any pets but I have had more than 16. I didn’t like animals but that changed. I have met most of my goals and found that the goals I did not reach, I am still interested in pursuing. Many times in my life, my family tried to redirect my path. Without my life map in my journal, I don’t know what I would have done. My family is very controlling but I was able to stick to my guns and now they see that I knew what I was doing, and that I was right.

I have a journaling class/business that I call exactly that: Journaling as a Life Map and my students have told me that they have started writing. One man who has a PhD, had gotten off track of his life but now is journaling and he is writing articles for newsletters and newspapers.

I don’t really know what you had in mind when you said that but as I said before, nothing is written in stone and we cannot know what will come our way but I think we can live our lives more effectively if we have plans- a life map as it were and go from there.

We may even do it in increments. I am. Life maps don’t have to be done all at one time. Maps of the universe are done knowing that things may change. Countries will change boundaries, change names, change leaders but they still make maps.

I won’t say “ You are young yet” because that is insulting and it is usually followed by “You don’t know what you want yet.” Well I sure did. I got a job I wanted because I had planned and visualized it.

Your book has already been written but if you write another one, I hope you will reconsider some of your advice. I am not writing this to insult you. I am after all reading your book. I just wanted to share my experience with you.

Jean E. Wildjean

Samara to Jean

Hi Jean,

Thank you so much for writing. I’m not insulted at all. I very much enjoy when people share their opinions with me—even if they don’t match mine. I’m also glad to hear that you’re an avid journaler and that the practice has had such a positive influence on your life.

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of journaling and can wax poetic for hours on its many benefits. I am, however, going to stick with my original assertion that a journal is not a map, and I’ll explain why. To me a map is something that someone hands you. It’s already been drawn up, and it’s very logical. The map will tell you that it makes no sense whatsoever to go south when you’re heading from Pittsburgh, PA to Augusta, Maine. In that case south is absolutely the wrong direction, and you need to go north (northeast to be more specific). Life isn’t that cut and dry though. It’s not always logical. There are detours, setbacks, opportunities, and triumphs that take us in directions we never thought we’d go. And maybe, just maybe, you do head south to Tennessee from Pittsburgh in order to go north to Maine because the love of your life is in Nashville and you wanted to give her a flower and a kiss before heading home. The map wouldn’t approve. The map would say, You’re wasting your time. But your heart would be set right because you did what you needed to do. You headed in the direction in which you needed to go.

A map can tell you how to get from point A to point B. Life cannot. You (meaning me and everyone else, too) have the pleasure and the pain of figuring out how to get ourselves from school to a career. From lonely to not lonely. From unhappy to happy. From lacking to abundance. A journal is, undoubtedly, a guide. As you said, you can look back on your journal and enjoy when you made the right decision about something—I like to laugh at myself when I made the wrong decision, too. But even wrong decisions have a way of working themselves out. At the end of your life you may have a map in your hands, but it’s a map you drew along the way. It’s not a map that someone handed you at the beginning. That’s why I said, “A journal is not a map.”

I hope this brought some clarity to my statement. Thank you again for contacting me, and feel free to do so again in the future.

Sincere regards,

Jean to Samara

Question? How can a Map approve or disapprove. It is only a THING. YOU are the one following or slightly or mostly disregarding it BUT when YOU make the map, you are more likely to follow it and what if you don’t. A map is not less of a map because you didn’t follow it all the way I realize that there may be some obstacles on the way. I don’t see maps as absolute- even my own.

As I said, I had never anticipated having cats. Never. I didn’t like them. But at some point, that changed. But it was not on my map and therefore, the change didn’t matter. And what if it WAS on the map; I don’t get upset over things like that. I often take the unbeatened path but that is often on my map also. My maps leave me room for the unexpected.

I have had dreams of my mother out front of me in her car and she wants me to follow her exactly but I don’t and I see her going off into ditches or ending up with a fence closed behind her. I am able to go on because I wasn’t following her. I am taking my own path. That path was on MY map. As I said in the first email, the map is not written in stone. My map is what I make for myself- not given to me by someone else. My map may look different from the maps you buy or borrow from someone else but it is still My map and how I want to get there.

One more time, the map cannot approve or disapprove of your plans. It is just a map. My journal is a map but it cannot approve or disapprove of me or my plans. But I make my map and it works for me. When I don’t have my future mapped by me, for me, I feel lost. It doesn’t have to be logical or anything else. My map is not for you or anyone else unless you like it or parts of it and I am not going to judge how you follow it or IF you follow it. I guess what is comes down to is how you define a map and how many versions you have.

Chart some goals for yourself and put them on paper. They don’t have to be logical but see how closely you follow. Look at it down the road. For me, I don’t keep looking at it. Charting them puts them in the back of my mind and then I look back and say,. WOW. I did what I said I was going to do and maybe not in the exact order but pretty close. Sometimes I skip parts of my map and go on ahead or backtrack or take a side road.


Samara to Jean

Hi Jean,

I don’t mean that a map approves or disapproves literally but rather figuratively. According to a map: north is north, south is south, and there’s no changing that. It’s resolute. It’s logical. Life, on the other hand, isn’t so rational—as you’ve stated. A map in my hands would tell me exactly where I’ll end up if I turn left then right then left again. But in life I have to take those turns and wait to see what’s around each corner. The destination is a surprise.

Also, if I were the first person to draw a map from New York City to Boston then I could share that map with others. I could say, “Here’s how I got there. You can follow the exact same path.” But I could never do that with a map of my life. If someone made the exact same choices that I have thus far in my life then they would still end-up in a different place.

I think we agree more than we disagree. We agree that a journal is a great place for goals, feelings, and dreams, and it helps us whether we re-read what we’ve written or not. We simply, as you said, have a different concept of “map.” I’ll call my journal a guide, and you’ll call yours a map. And we’ll continue to spread the word about what a useful life tool it is.


Buy A Newspaper !

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Not only will you will want to tell your grandchildren about this remarkable day, but you’ll surely want to access it yourself. Stop by The Huffington Post for a slideshow of major newspaper front pages.

I offer my congratulations to President-elected Obama. My prayers are with you and our nation.

November 4, 2008: To Do List

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

– Wake up and be grateful. Grateful that we live in a country that allows us to elect our leaders.

– Remember Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and countless other women who fought long and hard so that I might have the right, as a woman, to vote.

– Savor this moment in history.

– Fire it up.

– Seize the day!

– Vote!!

Goodbye to Journal Number 11

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I finished my 11th journal over the weekend. In the past, I’ve gotten so excited about starting a new one that I skip the final few pages of the old one. Not this time. I didn’t even notice it was almost done until I turned the page and saw there were no more. Maybe I’m becoming more patient in my old age.

This journal lasted from May 4, 2007 to November 2, 2008. Most of my entries were very long—a page at the least and eight pages at the most. Between those epic entries I found 14 very short ones that I’m glad to share with you. I’ll warn you first that some of these make little to no sense. Reading them, however, reminds me how much I love short entries—they capture fleeting moments and strange thoughts so well. I think I’ll try for more in journal number 12.

May 5, 2007
I just cut lilacs from my bush outback and put them in a glass vase. It feels like the most important thing I’ve done in a while.

May 12, 2007
May I never need anything but the rain. The glorious rain on my windowsill.

May 13, 2007
“It is but a shadow and a thought you love.” – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

May 20, 2007
I do assign meaning to the strangest things sometimes.

June 30, 2007
Last night was supposed to make me feel better and I feel even more far removed than before. I don’t feel bad—just uncertain and a little unromantically loved.

August 1, 2007
All of the sudden life went from being very noisy to very quiet. I can’t tell if I’m the outcast or if noise if just an illusion—made to let us think we’re getting things done.

September 17, 2007
I had a dream about Nick Conrad last night. He, his wife, Jesse, and I were in a log cabin. The wife kept fixing the elevator. Why it had an elevator . . . I may never know.

March 5, 2008
A remarkably hopeful sky this morning. The clouds have parted and the sun shines straight through—all the while the rain comes down.

March 9, 2007
I’ll have everyone know that I am not down for the count. There are more surprises in store. For everyone. Even me!

4 / 25 / 08
Then. All of the sudden there was this panic. Visceral panic. Like everything I had done so far was wrong. Irreversibly wrong.

May 6, 2008
Wrangling. Wrestling. Eat oatmeal out of the perfect bowl. Purity. Personality. Dancing till my feet are cold. Sitting on the mountain top waiting for a sign. With perfect lines and no tolls along the way.

May 10, 2008
I’m happy to report that the sky continues to be the limit.

July 30, 2008
It’s okay. It’ll be okay. Shhhhhhhhh. You’re doing what you have to for now. You’ll be fine. You give birth to new ideas everyday. It’s when you stop doing that. Then I’ll worry about you.

November 2, 2008
I made the mistake of thinking I couldn’t go any deeper. Foolishly thinking I had arrived at the center. As it turns out there is an ocean inside me. Pain invites me to the lower league. This is a blessing to know that I have father to go. To swim. To endure. And someday to arrive.