I am making these things:

The White Papers

For more, visit TheWildLetters.com, a project for the explorer in all of us by me and Yarby

A Moment in Time

A new year is here again, another time to reflect on the collection of moments past and thoughts for the future.  

We are obsessed with time. How old are you? When will that happen? How long until? When was that? It passes by quickly and yet sometimes seems to stall. One moment mundane and the next, breathtaking. How we spend it is in our total control and how it passes is unwavering. It is our most treasured possession. 

In general, I am introspective person and I cherish shifts in time where natural reflection happens. This year, these moments have been plentiful. Starting the beginning of 2016 in Charlotte working full-time as an Art Director, I would have never imagined what would ensue in the following 12 months. Those are the things I would only day dream of and imagine. Never put into action.

Yet, here I am. Thousands of miles later.

2016 was the year that I traveled through 13 states, hiked hundreds of miles, left my comfort zone, said no to things that didn’t serve me, fought for those that did, spilled ink pots while lost in moments of creative exploration, painted windows and walls, made summits, learned to understand my heart a little bit more and proved to myself that I was brave enough to spend my precious time with thoughtful intention.

It has been scary. These are the things that people like me don’t do. Fall in love when it doesn’t make sense. Take a leap without a backup plan. Trust that things will work out.

As this year closes and another begins, it is becoming increasingly more clear to me that this is the only way to live. Relentlessly, with your heart on your sleeve and nervous about the next step. Time is passing and it won’t wait for you to muster up that deep breath, collect your thoughts and take the plunge into the risky, awakening experience in front you. At the end of the day, the only thing you truly own is your experience, creative expression and courage. This is your time to spend. 

Here’s to 2017. May this be just the beginning of a lifetime of adventure, love, creativity and exploration.

Sam WhiteComment
This Life is Beautiful.

It has been almost 6 months since I quit my job and started an adventure I never thought I was brave enough to take. This summer, Jason and I climbed mountains, swam in rivers, explored endless trails, watched the stars move and campfires flicker. My dad and I fished, hiked, camped and laughed. I discovered new parts of myself and uncovered some that were lost. 
This past month, I was lucky enough to have the time to help my extraordinarily graceful momma recover from a tremendous surgery. I had sleep overs with my little sister and we told secrets and giggled like we were little girls again. The time I was able to spend with my family over the last couple of months was worth a lifetime. 
This life is beautiful. 
I hate to say it but, in these moments of transition, I’ve found myself stuck in thoughts of inadequacy. I don’t know what is next, what my job will be, where I will live and who I will meet. As scary and uncertain as all of this is, it is also quite ironic. This is the moment of endless potential. 
Yesterday, I moved to Nashville. And while it’s true, I don’t know any of these things, I do know that I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to say yes to every chance I have to integrate into this community, meet the people that make it beautiful and make this the next adventure. 
Here’s to you, Nashville! Let’s live a great life! After all, this life is beautiful.
If you are in Nashville, or know someone who is, I want to meet you and hear your story!

Sam WhiteComment
The Real Story

This is the real story of our summer of adventures.

 

Yesterday, Jason left. I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house, moving out, and finding remnants of the sun soaked, dirt covered summer days. As I finished, I took one last moment in the summer home to sit in front of the fire place and take it all in.

I looked out the picture window at the snowman we had built the day before. He began to drip in the warm sun. I just stared and without warning, my body began to shake and tears poured down my face. Yet, I was smiling. I have never experienced this before.

Everything has fallen into place. These are the things we don’t talk about much. Earlier in the summer, Jason was laid off. His big client decided to take their work in house thus leaving no work for the agency. Due to unfortunate circumstances, this was the second time in our relationship that this had happened. Quickly, my mind went frantic, concluding all of the worst case scenarios. “I can’t do this. This isn’t the life I signed up for. What is HE going to do?!” Damnit. We are in Montana with one car and no plan.

It is so easy to find yourself in situations such as this and give up. Or in my case, shut down and try to figure everything out in my own flustered mind, without talking. As the summer days passed full of fish, long hikes in indescribable country, visits from friends, road trips, camping, summits, and crisp air, overtime, I realized, this was the plan all along. Because of this, I got to spend every waking moment, experiencing this place, feeling and summer with Jason. Instead of spending his days tucked into our home behind a computer, we played. We scraped by as we both picked up freelance gigs here and there and, it worked.

While none of this misfortune was his fault, I put it in his hands. One day we were hiking and as we approached a tall summit, it struck me. He is doing everything I asked of him. (Which is a lot) He came to my home town, left everything he knew and never once has said, “No.” To every adventure, family dinner, dance lesson, craft project, drive or crazy idea, he has been just as excited if not more, than Lucy, our dog. He has shown up with his whole soul ready to love me and the life we are living.

As I sat on the fireplace and cried joyful tears, the memories of this summer rolled like a slideshow in my head: hard earned summits, Lucy discovering creeks, perfect and unforgettable visits from friends, the stars, backpacking, breathtaking views, National Parks, bike rides and fireside conversations. While, there were moments this summer that I doubted success, I sat on the fireplace in awe of God, His plan and His execution. Jason left to go to Nashville for an far more fruitful job than the last. I am allowed the time to go spend a month with my mom in Texas to help her as she goes through surgery and Nashville, that is our next adventure.

Of course, you can never know how any one experience will turn out. Going into this summer, I knew to expect the surroundings, the majesty of a Montana summer but the rest was all a delightful surprise. The moments of disbelief caused Jason and I to have hard conversations and learn an extraordinary amount about each other. The freed up time allowed us to take every minute of this summer at its fullest and the timing of Nashville is perfection. I am grateful for the time apart as we can appreciate the beauty of the last four months without quickly moving into the next routine. This was a summer that changed us. It changed me and it changed him and made for a better us. This is what happy, grateful tears are made of.

 

Sam WhiteComment
This is the Moment We Live For

This is the moment we live for. The one where you get to decide everything. Where you live, what you want to do, who you do this adventure with, how you do it and what is important to you. What a complete and utter blessing! What a terrifying place to be standing!

Each moving piece drifts into my mind and I quickly dismiss them as a distant thought. Until, they return vigorously knocking and am I reminded that this is the reality in front of me: a world of infinite possibility followed by a fork in the road.

Two months ago, I did something a little crazy. I quit my job, intentionally pulled the comfort right out from under myself and started a new path. I moved to a place I once called home. The place I attribute my identity to. Without employment, I took a chance on myself and my ability to create and hustle. I left town with a boy and brought him to my home.

I’ve never looked back.

The home I returned to has a whole new facade and pulse. It has been five years since I have spent my days here. The people are changed, there are new buildings, I am changed, the sky is still breathtaking and the mountains continue to hold my soul.

Coming back, I naively expected the place I left. While the streets and trails are the same and the faces familiar, to me, this place is mostly new. People always told me, “Go! You can always come back. This will always be here.” They weren’t wrong. The place is still here but time has continued on without me. The soul of the place that I left, is older and changed. As is mine.

Summer is coming to an end and the ground under my feet is shifting. The life I left two months ago is calling me back like a room full of old friends. The life in front of me is a party that I have not been to before but they are serving plates of potential, wine of wonder and drugs that may knock you out or, may give you total elation. As I stand here looking at each, I realize a rain check is not an appropriate response to either invite. The time is now. This time will not wait.

Stability, city, safe and smart. Freedom, forests, fumbling and new frontiers.

This is the moment we live for. The one where you get to decide everything.What a complete and utter blessing! What a terrifying place to be standing.

Sam WhiteComment
Living The Dream is a Choice

You have all heard this before. Be grateful and you will be happy. Good advice, I agree.

 

In a recent conversation with a friend, I was listening to them explain their day.

My response was, “Good for you! You’re living the dream.” Their quick rebuttal was, “Yeah, well, there’s this and there is that.”

Being Sam, I found this as an introspective moment and thought about my own response, if that statement were presented to me. For the first time, I am so thrilled and proud to say that, yes, “I am living the dream, there is this and that, but this is still my dream.” Hold on, this isn’t some pompous, I’m so great, look at me, blog. Quite the opposite actually.

I am proud to say this because…. Living the dream is a choice. The choice isn’t always to quit your job, move across the country etc. It is the type of choice that you wake up everyday and say, “Man, I love this. I can’t believe I get to do this. I love the people I surround myself with. I love what I am working towards. I love the city in which I live…” That is the most important choice you can make. 

Late to the party, I recently started reading, The Minnimalists. One notion in particular stood out to me. They talked about the anchors we all have in our lives. These anchors can be anything from debts, people in our lives that aren’t positive, tasks, material items, thoughts etc. Essentially, anything that is preventing you from moving forward and having the life that you are proud of.

Ready for this? Here is the good news: YOU can change all of that! No, it won’t happen overnight and sometimes it may take quite a bit of work. However, it is in that process you will slowly find yourself, thinking, “Man, I love this.”

Over the past month of being in Montana, I have been quick to point out all of the things I’m doing “wrong.” “We need to make more money. I need to meditate everyday. We need to only eat vegetables. Nag. Nag. Nag.”  (Just writing the out makes me feel icky. Eh hum… anchor?)

I am certainly one to think, “when I do ___, I will be happy.” (Oh, I’m the only one? You guys are lucky.) On my recent journey it has been, when I meditate or write every day, that will be it, I will be happy.  In the above mentioned conversation with a friend, it hit me, wait, I am happy. All of this, “if, when” talk was getting in the way of simply waking up, taking a few moments to look around, be grateful, take a deep breathe and be in awe of this life.

And, would you look at that? There is my meditation.

There is no doubt I have my own anchors, big ones. However, I know what they are and am making a conscious effort to lift them from the ground and turn them into kites. I feel very Polly Anna writing this post and can hear the comments, “Oh, you’re young. Things aren’t always a walk in the park. You’re going to need a real job one day. You’re living in a fantasy world.”  Fine. Yes, all of that may happen.

Here is the biggest thing I have learned from my adventure thus far, fantasyland or not, we all have the choice to wake up and see the good, remove the bad and live the dream. It’s a choice, and I am going to make it for the rest of my days.

 

Sam WhiteComment
A Lifetime of Adventure
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 Here we are. The adventure of a lifetime, or rather a lifetime of adventure.

The last weeks and days have been overloaded with packing, organizing, downsizing, friends, gratefully looking at Jason, trips to the storage unit, reflection, work, and more trips to the storage unit.

As we approach these life changes, reflection just naturally happens. After almost four years, Thursday was my last day of work at Adams Outdoor Advertising. That morning I woke up and thought to myself: I am going to miss this life.

From there, a rolodex of experiences, place and people flooded my mind. While it is true that I hold the all of this close to my heart and will indeed, miss it, the more appropriate emotion is the overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for my first season in Charlotte, the places that built it and the people that made it real.

Packing up two homes, leaving your job, scouring craigslist for a place to live and spending a good portion of time deciding if you like that dress enough to bring it will certainly prepare the mind to stop, take inventory on all of the elements that build a life and reflect. What an incredible blessing to really think about the people, circumstances and places that have been a part of your story.

My heart is full. More than I have ever experienced. Thank you to all of the tremendous people I have crossed paths with. I am forever grateful for you.

Even after all of that, the adventure we are on has not hit me at all. You know what, I’m thrilled about that. Right now, I am on the road to Nashville, and it is stunning. Tonight we will have dinner and celebrate this beautiful life and story we are writing. Then… it’s a new day. Eventually, we will end up in Montana. Until then, there is a lot of life to be lived.

Tomorrow I am turning 27, and I couldn’t think of a better way to start this year. Here is to a lifetime of adventure!

Sam WhiteComment
What If?

I suppose in any situation there will be there outcomes: What if this doesn’t work? What if this does? What if this stays the same?

 

Tonight, I spent the night packing up my belongings with my boyfriend, Jason. I am not a hoarder of things. Far from it actually.  However, as we are going through my kitchen saying “keep yours or mine?” My mind began to calculate the risk that is actually involved with this move. Oh, this is real.

What if this doesn’t work? I should keep everything. That way, when I come back, if things aren’t the way we've planned, life can go on as usual. At least my kitchen will. I will still be able to cook.

Okay, wait…. Stop right there.

I found my mind drifting to this place tonight. It made me self conscious, doubting and instead of living in possibility, I lived in the world of back-up plans. The past decade of my life has been spent here. If I am going to let my mind wander into the “what if this doesn’t work?” then I should just stay put. The idea of embarking on an adventure, relationship, or even a day with a predetermined “what if this doesn’t work?” mentality is a situation I refuse to put myself into, again.

As I am packing up my kitchen, watching Jason help me make decisions about what spatulas to keep, I choose to live in the space of, “I cannot believe, I get to do this.”  Will it work with Jason? I sure as hell hope and think so. I will continue to put my heart forward as though it will. He has given me every reason to do so thus far.

As I am packing my spice drawer, I am thinking to myself, “Spices are a bit expensive. What happens if I am so poor when I return that I can’t afford these?” Stop. I threw them away (most were approaching due dates anyways). What about the couch, the table the, the, the, the….? Stop.

It is all stuff, it can all be replaced. Experiencing this moment while I can and taking it for everything it is worth? That cannot be replaced. If I come back poor, I will be rich with stories.

I fully believe that Jason and I will come back being the strongest, best form of ourselves and a couple that we have been yet.

Of all of the questions, my biggest fear is asking myself, “what if you would have?”

What if I would have given my whole heart to the relationship? What if I would have not thought about the repercussions of my giving up my mixer and looked in the future with eyes full of potential, possibility and curiosity?

That is what this is about. Dismantling the "what if" and replacing it with potential, possibility and curiosity.

 

Sam WhiteComment
Here We Go

Holy Shit. I did it.

Sometimes, things take a moment to set it. Or, maybe a moment to be fulfilled and realized. Anyone that has known me over the past 5 years, is undoubtedly aware of my long standing love affair with Montana. A week ago, I quit my job. Jason and I are canceling our leases, putting our belongings in storage and heading to Montana.

Holy Shit. It’s real now.

I have always daydreamed about going back. Different circumstances surrounded each daydream. None of which seemed right. Quite frankly, each was encompassed with a lot of anxiety and toil. The timing wasn’t right, there were still things that I needed to do at my job, I needed to stay in one place for a while, I wasn’t ready to go home, the list goes on and on. Circumstances are certainly better this time but, for some reason, it was different. We have been talking about the idea for a couple of months now. My family was in support, things seemed to line up, and I replayed all of the aforementioned daydreams in my head over and over. For a while, I thought it was a nice idea and fun daydream to get lost in, but it too would fade into the background like the rest. 

With no particular event leading to it, I woke up with a gentle confidence, peace and certainty; This was the day, I would tell my boss and friend.

It’s quite odd how the feeling just hugged me really. A gentle nagging, “Go, be courageous, see what this world has to offer you.”

Several days later and I still find myself thinking,”Ha. That is a nice thought. That wasn’t me, I would never quit my job.” Yet, it was me. I did do that.

Holy Shit. I did that. Now we’re doing this.

I should start here by saying, it is a truly lovely feeling to leave something behind that has filled  your heart to the brim. Charlotte is quite possibly the first place that I have made home. Yes, Montana built me and will always hold my heart. The Queen City though, is the first place that I really built something. The first time, I came to Charlotte, was also my first day of work for Adams Outdoor. I didn’t know a single soul in the city. It has been 3 years, 6 months and 29 days since then. I say with the utmost sincerity that since that day, this city has embraced me with more than welcoming arms. The friends I have made, the passion that people have here and the willingness to build each other up in this city is inspiring. Saying, “I’m from Charlotte.” has been something I am so proud to say. This city is building something. I’m so honored to have taken a small part in that. So, I’m leaving?

Yes, but for a short time. And then, we are coming back. With no plan. That scares the shit out of me and also excites me more than Christmas morning. I heard something a while back, “At the end of the day, the only thing you truly own is your experiences.” This hit me with an insane amount of potency. I can choose this life, and I get one chance. This time in Charlotte, has prepared me for this, and without doubt when I reflect on my life as an old woman I will smile. And now, I am opening my world for the universe to embrace me once again.

Holy shit, we’re doing this.

Yes, there is a we. Those of you that have known me over that past five years, also know I haven’t really embraced a “we,” for various reasons, I suppose. Remember, that feeling I described earlier, confidence, peace and certainty? Copy and paste that here. After meeting Jason, it quickly became clear to me, that I was now we. Honestly, without him, I don’t know that I would do this. We’re adventure partners.

If I do have anything planned, it is to remain intentional with my time. To not worry about what will happen when it is over. To work on my craft, everyday and challenge myself. To go on an adventure everyday. To spend an incredible amount of time with my family. But most importantly, welcome the universe with arms spread wide with excitement, possibility and courage.

Holy shit, here we go.

(sorry for the dirty words, Grandma.) 

Sam WhiteComment
Here.

Here, this very moment. I can never seem to quite find myself here. Since I can remember, it’s been this way for me. In college, I was always on the next place or stuck thinking about the last. I prided myself on this. “It’s my sense of adventure, I am seeing the world!” I would say. Yes, I was. However, to be on an adventure, you have to actually be there. 

I had the fairytale ending to my college career. For 4.5 months, I was in Italy taking art history and photography. I lived in Florence and spent every weekend exploring parts of Europe. I was miserable. My parents came at the end of my time there and my mom, who knows me better than anyone, just looked at me and could see it. The entire time, I was concerned with the people the I’d left behind, where I was going to go when I returned and how my life was going to unfold. 

This experience unfortunately isn't a stand alone. I didn’t fully learn my lesson in Italy. Though much more aware, I still have moments that my mind goes from being here, there to elsewhere. What a tremendous undertaking it is to be present. And how quickly can we unconsciously drift away. 

I am so grateful this morning. After finishing, “How to be Here,’ by Rob Bell, I have stopped, and decided to sit. To take it all in. 

The mind is a tricky place. The moment right now is big. The birds are outside chirping, rain intermittently hits the leaves. There is a slight cleansing breeze. The coffee pots groans and a car drives by, grabbing the wet roads with it tires. The world is quiet this morning. As I take a sip of my coffee, the taste reminds me of Italy and has made me think: I don’t ever want to waste time like that again. What a tragedy to go through life and not fully experience it. I suppose, that is how life can pass you by. 

To wake up, have your routine and just be, I don't want that. But here is the best part, it’s as simple as a choice. To have moments that pause and make you realize, you are going through the motions just to get to the next thing.

Stop. 

Give yourself to the motions. Fully immerse yourself into them. They will lead to something greater than you know. Greater than whatever it was you were trying to get to in the first place. Inhale, move forward with courage and trust that by giving your best, the universe will do the same in return. 

The past will still be there. You can’t change it. The future will come when it comes, regardless of how long you think about it. But now, this is it. 

I am grateful this morning because I have chosen to be here. 

 

 

---

I can't give enough praise for How to Be Here, by Rob Bell. whoa.

 

Sam WhiteComment
Charlotte Stands for Heroes Needs to be an Annual Event

Growing up, my mom loved Hootie and the Blowfish. By proxy, as an adult, I guess I would say, I do too. While Hootie, now better known as Darius Rucker, was the draw for the Charlotte Stands for Heroes event, he certainly was not the reason. 

Two years ago, Jenn Synder, the Executive Director of the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club went to a show in New York City. That show was the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Stand Up for Heroes event. Being so impacted by the production, Jenn left promising herself, she would bring the show to Charlotte. 

Thursday night was the first annual Charlotte Stands For Heroes. In the days leading up to the event itself, several injured vets from North Carolina were treated to a full day at the Modern Spa, a private tour of the Panther's stadium, and a reception at the Palm among other red carpet treatments. The sole purpose of the event was to honor those that have served our country and help them to thrive upon their return home. 

Hundreds of people filled the lobby of the Knights Theater in uptown town Charlotte prior to the concert. Despite the overly crowded space, spirits were high with anticipation for performances from Sinbad and Darius Rucker. 

Beginning the evening with traditional bag pipes, presentation of the flag, and an emotional performance of the National Anthem by former Voice contender, Meghan Linsey, the stage was set for an incredible evening. A video highlighting the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s mission was shown prior to the veterans being individually honored by name. Several audience members were moved to tears.

The mood quickly shifted as Sinbad took the stage and turned those tears into ones of laughter. Even I, who typically won't think comedy is funny, found myself smiling. A silent auction preceded the headliner, Darius Rucker. He played all the old favorites and had the crowd out of their seats dancing. I’m sorry you missed it Mom! 

The event was huge success and we are lucky to have individuals like Jenn in our city, that make Charlotte better. Props to you, Jenn, thank you for your hard work and honoring those that need our support most. 

Sam WhiteComment
Letters of Intent

Just two weeks ago, I decided to paint our mission statement on the wall of our lobby. I knew that one of the guys in operations, Bryant was an impressive artist. He started in the business by actually painting the billboards. From his experience, I figured he could offer some advice. 
At the mention of the project, Bryant beamed with excitement. "When can we start?" 
"I have tomorrow free?" 
"Perfect!"

Tomorrow came and we met first thing in the lobby. This was my first large scale lettering project and I couldn't wait to get started. 

I plugged my computer into the projector and casted my original image on the wall. Bryant laughed to himself and made a remark at how cool that was. He typically uses transparencies and an overhead projector. 

Bryant introduced me to lettering enamel, and how to effectively use it with mineral spirits and lacquer thinner. He gave me a tour of his immense collection of brushes and their individual purposes. Then, we started to paint. 

The techniques and processes that Bryant taught me were so helpful and absolutely needed. However, my biggest take aways were the moments in between brush strokes, exchanging ladders and getting more paint. Spending four hours getting to know Bryant and hearing his story was a complete pleasure. 

He told me of his art and his innate need to continually try new things and teach himself different techniques. I could absolutely relate to this notion. He told me of the adventures of his life, his mistakes and his wins. We talked about the times of painted billboards and how he got into lettering and his days of painting cars. He shared his paintings, drawings, carvings, and talked about playing guitar. 

We talked and talked. All of a sudden I looked up and we were done painting. 

It's funny how you can be in the same building for 3 years, and have the occasional passing high five in the hall or small talk conversation but never really get to know a person. Spending the time just hanging out was lovely. 

I suppose it made me more aware of the opportunity we have to be intentional with our conversations and time with those around us.  Everyone has a story to tell. Wouldn't it be a shame if we were just always to busy to hear each other's? 

Yes, I did my first large scale lettering project. I'm so proud of it. Really though, I made a new friend and that's pretty cool.  

P.s. Bryant showed me so many examples of his work. I asked if he was keeping them anywhere. "Nah." I helped him set up a Facebook page to change that. See his work here!

Sam WhiteComment
Check that Off the List

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go Over the Edge as a fundraiser for Special Olympics NC. All said and done, I rappelled down 20 stories in Uptown Charlotte. Check out the video: 

HUGE thank you to Garrett Lucas for letting me use his GoPro's and taking photos! 

Sam WhiteComment
Custom Holiday Cards

I cannot believe it is already here but, I am so glad it is! I would love nothing more than to help you celebrate the Holidays this year and spread as much holiday cheer as possible! 

I am beginning to take orders for custom holiday cards! What does this mean? Well, I am glad you've asked. 

Each card will be hand crafted with a colorful watercolor backsplash overlaid with a custom phrase of 2-5 words (your choice of course). Oh, did I mention they will be brimming with holiday cheer? Complete with envelopes, I will be doing sets of 10 for $35 and sets of 25 for $60. For an additional fee ($1.25 per) I would love to address your envelopes for you as well! 

Interested? Fantastic!

The card's will be white with your choice of ink color (Silver, Gold, Red, Wine or Black).

Next step, choose your envelope color: 

... and then if you would like your envelopes addressed, your ink color. Silver, Gold, Black or White. 

Let's talk about what colors you would like and what your favorite holiday tradition is! I am looking forward to helping you have the best holiday yet! Cheers!

If you have any questions or would like to place an order send me an email here, find me on Twitter here, or you can of course call me at 406.233.3106

 

Sam WhiteComment
You Belong Here and What You are Making Matters.

"That is the beautiful thing about life, all of the paths are always open. You just have to pick one."  -Darrell Vesterfelt

Over the past several weeks, I have been blessed enough to sit with, listen to, meet and witness some of the most authentic, genuine and inspiring people. All of it has been overwhelming. 

There are so many humans in this world that are refusing to accept the mundane and chase after that which makes them feel purposeful in this world of potential, confusion and mediocrity. It’s hopeful.

This past week I was in Nashville, for Story, a creative conference that inspires people to tell the story they are meant to tell. It’s an interesting idea, really. We’ve all heard it. You each have a story to tell or purpose for being here. But, have you ever really thought about what that is for you? 

As Ali Nelson told her intricate story, she went on to tell of an encounter with an unlikely admissions officer who bluntly explained to Ali’s broken spirit, “You belong here and what you are making matters.” Regardless of where you are, what you do or the story you are telling yourself, this is something that we all need to hear everyday. 

Personally, I have a tendency to get stuck in a place of what’s next, where do I belong, what does this world need from me? Maybe, it’s as simple as the world needs me and you to just tell our story, whether that is through drawing, speaking, excel spread sheets, cooking, or whatever it is that makes your time pass. What is it that brings your curiosity and wonder and why are you ignoring that? 

No, we don’t all need to quite our day jobs, solve world hunger or be the next Picasso but we do have the responsibility to be authentic, do what we love and do a lot of it. As Ruthie Lindsey so eloquently stated, “Get rid of the luxury of fear.” You have one chance here, say what you and only you can say. Look at your story as a gift and share it. All of it, the hard, the beautiful, the mediocrity, the mess and the redemption. You are here, the world needs you and your story. 

So pick a path and take it. The good news is, there is always another one right behind that. Failure will happen whether you sit still or try. Fail at something that matters and succeed at something that only you can. You owe it to the world. 

“A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art.”  - Erwin McManus

Sam WhiteComment
Director of Toughness

This past weekend, I took a round trip adventure to NYC. … in about 51 hours, 20 of which were spent en route in my Subaru, Joan. I can hear it now:  Why didn’t we fly? Why wouldn’t you stay longer? Why would you go in the first place?

I have learned, that when given an opportunity for adventure, seize it.  Along with 180 other people, I was invited back for an interview with Columbia Sportswear for their Director of Toughness position, aka, the dream job. In essence, Columbia is looking to hire two people to test their gear in the toughest of environments and the most extreme setting for six months. Yes please!

Beyond the excitement and honor in being one of the 3k that were asked back for the interview, the experience itself was worth the journey. More times than not, this could be said about the experience. While waiting for the interview, I met several spectacular people that were also in pursuit of the dream job. There is something about the adventure folk. Their priorities seen to be in check (or at least align with things I find important) and they seek experience rather than the completion. It is cliché but needs to be stated here: the view from the top is only as good as the work that was put in to get you there. Despite the outcome of who is selected, I am so glad that I slept under the stars in PA, drove for hours and hours, made new friends, had to jump my car, and stayed up way too late to make it to this interview. The experience was worth it.

I will always be thankful for the fact that I was born and raised in Montana and hold that close to my identity. I understand being cold, dirty, happy, tired, seeking the thrill of a -10 degree powder day, sleeping under the stars, jumping into mountain lakes and having blisters the size of silver dollars after a good hike. All worth it -always. Each adventure has laid a layer onto the person I am today.

Regardless of Columbia’s decision, I am happy to add this to my list of stories. It was a reminder that really, I have nothing to lose except for maybe the experience I would have passed up. Some people are afraid of spiders, mice or tornados, I’m afraid of “what if?” (and velvet, I am afraid of velvet).

Is there an experience that you are longing for? What is your “what if?” What is stopping you from finding out? We all have the power to be the director of toughness in our own lives. Mountain tops, going after the job, getting to a workout class, raising a family, learning something new or just starting a conversation all require toughness.  Be the director of toughness in your life, it will always be worth the effort.

Thank you Columbia for the opportunity and perspective.       

 

Update: Columbia just took the time to call and thank me. This time, two other lucky people were chosen. Wishing them the best of luck and looking forward to following them! Thank you again for the incredible opportunity! 

Sam WhiteComment
Boundless Love

Yesterday, my spirit was renewed. I was reminded of and perhaps introduced to a new caliber of the immense beauty and love humans are capable of. 

My dear friends Laura and Phil were married. 

The entire day radiated with perfection. As individuals, Phil and Laura are two of the most endearing, kind and loving people that I will ever meet. Their spirits are steeped in Jesus and by just being in their presence you can’t help but experience their elegant compassion. Together, they are quintessential and unmatched. 

Laura was the first girl I met when I moved to Charlotte almost three years ago. She has been a pillar of support in my life since. Yesterday, I had the honor of being in her bridal party as she walked down the aisle. Being a girl that holds her emotions close to heart, this wedding had my eyes brimming with tears of joy.

As a spectator and minor participant of this event, the experience had a profound impact on me. People poured into this couple with love and support throughout weekend. The community of people that this couple has built with their audacious love, came with open arms. Beyond being able to celebrate their incredible love, I was lucky enough to work alongside several selfless, talented people who truly brought Laura’s vision to life. There is something that happens when you are working to make someone feel special and honored. All of the hiccups, sweat, bandaids and laughs culminate into a feeling of complete wholeness when you realize you have helped make someones moment better. 

Phil and Laura, without realizing to what extent, do this moment by moment with just their existence. To attempt to do the same for them, was a complete honor.  I left the weekend with a heart full of hope, and a vision of the love I hope to build. One of forgiveness, tenderness, passion, honesty, understanding, adventure, fullness, questioning, continual growth and above all else, support from each other and our God. 

Phil and Laura, thank you for inspiring so many people to love fully, wholly and without regret. You two are an absolute gift to everyone you meet. May your years be filled with wonderment and boundless love. 

Sam WhiteComment
Ride On
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I am a firm believer in building and making with your hands. Yes, there is an absolute time and place for a computer and I love my Mac. However, for me, there is nothing more refreshing than the tactile feeling of folding, getting ink everywhere, drawing, sanding, and creating. It is easy for me to forget this but when I take the time, I never regret it. 

My latest "refreshment" was a skateboard. I spent a number of years longboard but never skateboarding. This was new territory for me. Naturally, I put flowers on it.   

When I first moved to the South, I was enchanted by the flowers on the trees. Magnolias are incredible to me. The sturdy beautiful leaves last all year long and for the shortest moments are accompanied by delicate, ivory blooms. As for the Dogwoods, that smell is nothing short of wonderful! Using paper and watercolor highlights, I made some of Charlotte's most lovely flowers. 

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This city is morphing in to a beautiful pattern of eclectic neighborhoods. This ideas absolutely needed be a part of the deck without being overly obvious or over powering. Through a collection of imperfect lines, I created an abstract grid of the city to act as a texture that seemed to almost "buzz" behind the delicate flowers. 

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Of course she need a name and The Queen City just made perfect sense. 

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And then... she was done! 

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She is now hanging in Gallery 22 amongst some incredible skateboards. Go to one of the best places in Charlotte, have a drink and enjoy some decks. 

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What is your way of refreshing? When is the last time to you did it? Today sounds like a great day to start! Happy Thursday! 

The Adventure

 

Rumi is one of my favorites. Always has been. This particular quote is hanging on the inside of my door so that as I leave every day, I am reminded to stay alive. This may sound cliché but I am certain that it tends to stand true in certain seasons of our lives. 

Embodying a bit of a gypsy soul, there are moments that I feel stuck, uninspired and stagnant. These thoughts scare me tremendously. I want to be on an adventure always and live my life as full as possible. 

The past couple of years, unintentionally, I have had to define what my adventure means. Growing up in Montana I was born into the never-ending adventure of skiing every weekend, camping in serene wilderness at a moments notice, jumping in cold mountain lakes and riding my bike picking lilacs… every day was an outdoor experience. Montana still has a significant portion of my heart and I attribute a large amount of who I am to those spaces, people and values that engulfed me. 

Despite these idyllic surroundings, there was something in me that needed to see what the world was made of. So I left … and floundered, for several years. I moved to several cities and continued to tell myself that this is what I wanted, yet in the back of my mind I was emotionally tied to Montana and the life I had there. However, history had proven, that when in Montana, I wanted to be somewhere else.

It became clear to me that I was looking for a place to complete me and become my home. I would move until I found it. I would “just know” when I found it. The ability to move anywhere, meet new people and appear to have “made a life,” was always something I took pride in. Never, was I fulfilled. I was always living in the past and comparing my life to the grand adventures my friends from Montana were having. The occasional Facebook picture of a summit or cross country ski path would make my heart sink and I could convince myself in a skinny minute, that I was living the wrong life. That was where I was meant to be. 

Sitting at my great job behind my desk, thinking to myself, this is a failure, this is not the life my younger self told myself I would be leading. WHOA! Hold please.

… That is when it hit me. I loved my life in Montana but I needed to let it go. While sitting in that space of nostalgia and comparison, I was blind to the incredible friends, career, passions, and potential of the very life I was in. In all actuality, this life looked like quite the tempting adventure. The life I was seeing my friends lead on social media was spectacular and maybe one day I will find myself back there but for now… this is my adventure and I choose to be present in it and live the hell out of it. 

Back to Rumi. To me, this is a reminder to not be blind to the things that I am seeking. Which for now, is to be creative, steep in the magnificence of the people I am surrounded with, to live this very life I’m living and give it everything I’ve got. Today, that is what excites my spirit and I hope to always respond to it.