Hi, I’m Sam. I love to listen to people’s stories and help them write memoirs that matter.
That’s the short version. For the longer version of who I am and what drives my passion, read on.
Why do I do what I do?
I believe everyone’s life story is worth telling. Every. Single. One. Helping you write your story is the joy and mission of my life.
I love to witness the light go on inside when someone sees their own extraordinary story for the first time. When someone sees their own (wild, crazy, beautiful, happy, sad, depressing, scary, bizarre, adventuresome) story mirrored on the page, the fear of being fully seen and known disappears along with the isolation that keeps them from connecting with others.
I call this experience memoir magic, and it happens every time.
When you work with me, I consciously create and maintain a compassionate and confidential environment in which you can feel safe to dig deep and share freely. Through your story we make connections and create a bond as we share the stuff that really matters.
If you’re ready to dig in and discover the raw beauty of your insight, your wisdom, and your shiny, badass story, then sign up. I’m here, waiting for you.
What it’s like to work with me.
Some people say I’m like a glass of Prosecco: Full of bubbly cheer and able to draw out your best stories like truth serum. We’ll chat like old friends, even if we met just moments ago.
No matter how we work together – one-on-one, in my writing workshops, or in my retreats – I will hold space so you can finally give voice to your life stories. I use a variety of intuitive techniques to help you write about both happy and difficult life experiences. I help make the process effortless and less overwhelming than trying to write alone.
If your story has some difficult aspects, I help wrangle your fear. If you lack confidence, I am your cheerleader. Not everyone needs the same kind of support through their writing journey, but it’s likely I’ve got experience with whatever you need. All you have to do is ask; I’ve got your back. I'm not a therapist but I am a healer and my students find working with me to be meaningful and deeply curative.
Your secrets will be safe with me, so there’s no regrettable story hangover in the morning. When we work together, confidentiality is always paramount. What happens at The Cheerful Word stays at The Cheerful Word.
From birth I was destined for a path of listening to and preserving stories. For as far back as I can remember I sat at the feet of wise and witty elders. My parents revealed my path to me in different ways. My mother took me to the nursing home where she worked when my babysitter wasn’t available, and I’d toddle into the rooms and wait for people to tell me stories. I heard some doozies!
My father taught me by example that showing genuine curiosity in others got them talking about the things that mattered most to them. He may have had only an elementary education, but Dad knew the hearts of men and women better than anyone I’ve ever known. And they adored him for his pure and natural friendship.
My parents were a bit older than most of my peers’ parents, so I was privy to the banter of their many friends. Their voices filled my childhood with captivating tales full of adventure, risk, heartache, and inspiration. I witnessed the importance of sharing one’s own story with others and what it felt like to be accepted despite your shortcomings, and often because of them. I was an observant and empathetic child, a perfect skillset for a budding memoirist.
Why do I write?
I love the freedom writing gives me. I couldn’t always write, so I cherish the gift that it is today.
As a child, I attended classes for “special children” through third or fourth grade because I could not read or write at the same pace of my peers. I was removed from my mainstream classroom for about half the schoolyear and placed with those whom I had overheard were “slow” or “mentally retarded” I heard from some teachers. Back then, I had no idea what that meant. It was only later that my self-esteem took a beating knowing about my precarious early schooling. In my freshman year of college, a teacher failed me in a creative writing course. While on probation for failing grades, I took a public speaking course in hopes of changing my major and staying in school. Through that course, I not only overcame the fear of hearing my own voice (I was painfully, pee-your-pants shy my whole life till then), but learned to write and speak persuasively, from the heart. That one teacher lit a fire in me that has never gone out. It is my intent to light that same fire in you.
From that time forward writing became the way I made sense out of life. I sifted life’s experiences through pen and paper, filling journals with thoughts and emotions that only became clear once inked. After writing about certain events, I sometimes went back and read my entries to find that there was something more, different, or better in the experience than what I’d stored in my emotional memory. A harsh memory could lose its sting after writing about it. Writing was therapy I could rely upon anytime. And hilarious memories, had I not written them down, might have been lost to the folds of my gray matter, pressed together and forgotten like so many linens at the bottom of a cedar chest.
Now I harness that love, that ability, and those many lessons in helping you put your memories and experiences on paper. And I do it with joy.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know a bit about me. I look forward to getting to know you, too. Drop me a line, schedule an appointment, or sign up for a retreat or a workshop. I’m here for you.
Sam is author of How to Survive Dying, A Journal of Hope for Family Caregivers. Her writing also appears in the book From Surviving to Thriving by Dr. Amy D’Aprix, an author known for her numerous articles on elders and caregiving. Sam’s career has included managing a staff of medical editors, serving as a consultant designing and managing training and development departments, and co-owning a successful technical writing and public relations firm in Buffalo, NY. She maintains a home in Hendersonville, North Carolina with her husband. She is enjoying the Bavarian countryside of Germany while he works as a civilian contractor for the United States Army.
The mission of The Cheerful Word is to honor, encourage, and inspire individuals and their families by preserving their legacies and connecting their stories across the generations.