Samara O'Shea

E-Thank You Notes

October 30th, 2018

A friend of mine sent me a thank you note last week, over email. I’m not judging. I’m praising! She thanked me for the 40th birthday present I gave her, the 4-hour trip I took to attend the party, and she attached photos to liven up the message. I have received more handwritten thank you notes from this friend over the past 15 years than any other friend. At 40, she has two young children and not as much time to hand-write notes. She’ll get back to it in 18 years or so. I understand. The note brightened my day nonetheless.

I must confess: I’ve written a few e-notes over the years. I’m not talking about the practical emails we send all day every day but rather the emotional messages that require a little more thought. It can happen that time is of the essence and it’s better to send an e-message than no message at all. When that’s the case, I turn to Paperless Post. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fig Tree

September 26th, 2018

Below is a passage from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. She poetically describes the stress of choice and how gaining one experience means losing another. The good news is, in the 21st century, choosing one fig doesn’t mean saying no the ALL the others but it still means saying no to many of the others. As people live longer and hit milestones (such as marriage and children) later, there is more time to take the road less traveled. For a woman in the 1960s, however, choices were limited and there was less time to indulge unique life experiences, as Sylvia brilliantly expresses.

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

When the Church Goes to Confession

August 20th, 2018

In 2006, The Episcopal Church issued a comprehensive, formal apology (a resolution) for its participation in the institution of slavery. They accepted full responsibility for past actions and admitted they used scripture to justify their actions. “…we express our most profound regret that (a) The Episcopal Church lent the institution of slavery its support and justification based on Scripture, and (b) after slavery was formally abolished, The Episcopal Church continued for at least a century to support de jure and de facto segregation and discrimination…”

Instead of saying, “Now that we’ve discussed it and apologized, let’s never discuss it again,” they said something like, Let’s continue to uncover our transgressions (past and present) and continue to repent in order “to make a full, faithful and informed accounting of our history” and “be ‘the repairer of the breach'” (full quote below). Read the rest of this entry »

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Heard…Is True

July 16th, 2018

Twas December 2013 when I submitted the following essay to a website called Indie Book Week. Recently I clicked on the link and IBW was no more. Websites come and they go. C’est la vie. I’d like the essay to live somewhere, so I post it here.

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Heard…Is True

In early 2010 I attended an event called “Eat, Love, Write.” It was a fundraiser featuring bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert and her sister Catherine Gilbert Murdock as the keynote speakers. Catherine is a successful author in her own right—specializing in young adult novels. During the question and answer session, someone asked, “How do I get an agent?” Catherine began to respond practically but then she interrupted herself and said, “Focus on the writing. If a book is meant to be published it will find a way.” I rolled my eyes. If a book is meant to be published it will find a way. Don’t get me wrong; I am an advocate of everything happening for a reason, but come on! Agents don’t go knocking on doors asking if you happen to have a manuscript hanging around. You have to take your written work to the world. At the time, I dismissed it as one of the dumbest things I’d ever heard. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock the Vote

July 1st, 2018

I, shamefully, did not vote in the 2014 midterms. I will not make that mistake again!

“For those who face the future in fear after Wednesday, there are no easy answers — but there is a clear duty. Do not for a moment underestimate the importance of getting out and voting in November. Four years ago, only 36 percent of Americans cast ballots in the midterm elections. Had more people showed up, the Senate may well have remained in Democratic control, Mitch McConnell would not be the majority leader and Judge Merrick Garland would now be Justice Garland. In the days and months ahead, remember this.”

Newspaper Announcement

June 15th, 2018

I did an old-fashioned thing: Got married! Kidding. The old-fashioned part was submitting a wedding announcement to the local paper. Who does that anymore?! Meeeeeee =).

Newspaper text at the bottom of this post.

We had a small wedding (some might call it a microwedding) with only 14 guests. This was easy and difficult. The easy part is relieving yourself of the stress that comes with planning a large wedding. The difficult part is not sharing the day with extended family and friends. This week I have been mailing wedding announcements to my nearest and dearest. It’s been ages since I took on a mailing project of this size!

Newspaper text:

Samara O’Shea and Derek Nash were married May 5 at St. Mary’s, Hamilton Village located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. This is the same church where the bride’s parents married in April 1979. The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlsen performed the ceremony. The Episcopal service was complemented by sounds of the Celtic harp played by Martha Clancy. Following the service, 14 guests celebrated at The Wayne Hotel. The day’s events were captured by Andrea Krout Photography.

Ms. O’Shea, 38, is a licensed social worker currently employed with Central Behavioral Health in Norristown. She is a mobile therapist helping clients diagnosed with serious mental illness manage chronic physical illness. She graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, and received a master’s degree in social work from Temple University.

The bride is the daughter of Dennis and Carol O’Shea of Newtown Square, PA. The bride’s father has worked at Widener University for 39 years, currently serving as grounds supervisor. The bride’s mother is a retired teacher from Gloucester County Institute of Technology.

Mr. Nash, 34, is a senior software engineer at Envestnet, a wealth management firm, in Berwyn, PA, where he focuses on java development. The groom graduated with a dual degree in mathematics and computer science from Drexel University, where he also played on the ice hockey team.

The groom is the son of Barbara Nash of Pine Grove, PA, and the late Gregory Nash. The groom’s mother is a retired teacher from Spring-Ford Area School District. His father was the maintenance supervisor at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Nash’s 5-year-old son from a previous marriage, Dominic, served as ring bearer.

The couple met in November 2013 through the dating site Coffee Meets Bagel.

Addendum For Those Who Read Loves Me…Not: We were in the final stages of editing the book in late fall 2013 when I met Derek. I hadn’t dated anyone for little over 2 years. The guy in the book with the pseudonym Frank was the last person I had gone out with. I felt writing the book was what I needed to do before I could indulge a quality relationship. As it turned out, the Universe agreed. The past was where it belonged: On paper. Derek was my date to the book launch in January 2014 and the rest, as they say, is history. Maybe I’ve got a book about maintaining requited love in me …

“Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence, hence if each one of them experiences himself from the center of his existence. Only in this ‘central experience’ is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together; even when there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves, rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”

~ Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

The Surprisingly Simple Self-Esteem Booster

April 15th, 2018

After reading The 5 Love Languages earlier this year, I took the Discover Your Love Language quiz. As a result, I receive emails from the website. I kept meaning to unsubscribe from said emails until I saw this one about apologizing. It’s spot on! Our 45th President could use this advice. Sharpen those apology letter pencils!

“Did you know that low self-esteem can make it difficult to apologize? When we aren’t confident in who we are, an apology seems like a sign of weakness. But the truth is, people with high self-esteem more readily apologize, and apologizing can actually enhance your self-esteem. People generally respect a person more who is willing to take responsibility for his/her own failures. As people begin to respect and admire you more and more, then you start to feel better about yourself.

On the other hand, those who try to hide or excuse wrong behavior will almost always lose the respect and affirmation of others. A sincere apology is always a sign of maturity, not a sign of weakness. Apology opens the door to forgiveness. And forgiveness means that we can continue to grow in our relationship. It’s never too late to learn to apologize.”