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It was hard to keep going, even though things were good.  Things still are hard.  So i went through my hundreds of old journal pages, just like i did to make Gutless and Grateful, and I found key themes that helped me find joy in circumstances that were not ideal:

1.) Make your own rules.

Two rules I always used to try to follow:

Pray for someone every day

Don’t move until you see a miracle, wait for a miracle.

2.) Take a new risk daily.

Every day I am going to find one thing that I’ve never done before, one risk I have taken that makes that day stand out. As you expand your consciousness of kindness, you create a more spiritual life.

3.) Relax into the messy un-plans.

Life is messy, and everything does not have to be incorporated into a schedule – then I’ll never have room for the unexpected beauties to pop up!  Live frugally on surprise

4.) Enjoy the Beautiful Day

The sunlight makes the leaves shimmer gold, and it doesn’t even matter that they are all on the ground and the trees are naked – they look splendid anyway!  They cover the pavement and cast a trail down, around corners, leading to uncharted territories, to other, even  more beautiful horizons.  This must be a good sign of how today will be – I can easily think anxious thoughts today, but I don’t feel like that in this moment.

Instead, I will follow the trail of leaves, picking up one by one, using that as a metaphor for how I am to be in an individual moment and not think forwards or backwards, just enveloping myself inside the beauty of each star-shaped leaf.  I will not be in my head today – it’ a great day to be outdoors!

5.) Break Down Walls

Fear builds walls to block the light.

6.) Know Your Daydreams

I know my daydreams are real and can really come into existence for me, on the other side of this.  The other side of the mountain. I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.

When you’re walking and a butterfly flutters up to you, how can you not feel the Spring soak you in warm, loving light? You see the butterfly flutter his wings, almost dancing along. Butterflies show us that true joy is within the dance of life.

7.) Persistence Sets You Free.

.  It is NOT impossible to give up. It is possible to gain FREEDOM.

8.) Dammit. Just live and see how good it feels.

It feels good to be alive…

And I want more of it!!!!  Finally I have come to the point where living has become more important  than hiding away.  Because I let myself have that opportunity – I pushed myself to be scared because deep inside I knew there was nothing to be scared of!  And I like life in the light, once I overcame this fear.  It was so fun leading myself through my visualization in the actual woods, following the trail of leaves and telling the story of the hidden demons that lurk about in the eyes of the trees.  And the park was so gorgeous with the blaring circle of sun setting behind gigantic tall trees, and the moon already appearing at the other end of the sky, waiting in its dressing room for its showtime.  I wrote this visualization down and shared it with my mom – it feels so good to give back!

9.) Work to get back what you miss.

The first step toward liberty is to miss liberty; the second, to seek it; the third, to find it.

10.) Know your place and when to take it.

One rabbi said that every person should have two slips of paper in his pocket.  On one should be written: “The world was created for me.”  On the other should be written: “I am but dust and ashes.”  The trick is to have the wisdom to know which slip of paper to read at the right time.

11.) Keep checking in with yourself.

FYI – my soul is really speaking to both my mind and body today and it feels good.  It feels good to be with the world.  That movement in me makes me very optimistic and hopeful.   I feel like my soul always pulls through in the end, once it is led in the right direction and once I take off the handcuffs of fear and allow it to see the light.  After that, it acts like water – rushing in too easily fill whatever container it is put in, and filling it to the brim.  Once I am given the opportunity to experience life, I take to it like honey.  I thrive among my trees in wordless, blissful coexistence.

12.) Search Google for poems until you find something that inspires you.

We Rise With Gratitude

in the growing revelation of reality evolving around us,

we rise with gratitude into an ever larger and larger world.

Our personal life has its meaning,

and is dovetailed in all its co-evolutionary ups and downs

into the larger meaning that encompasses us.

None of us can go it alone: each has innate energies needed by all.

We give thanks to be conscious of the awesome narrative of which we are a part,

paradoxical and baffling as it is and must be.


I used my superhero five senses to guide me

My five friendly superheros always over my shoulder!

Alfie the Audio boy – wind, rain, and musical theatre (and grandpa singing yiddishe mama) – he could be a musical staff, with hips shaped like a guitar, with wind as his hair, and covered in rain, with piano keys for teeth

Seymour the Scent-man – smell-sense could be a cinnamon stick!  He definitely has to smell like fall, and maybe he’ll (or she’ll) be wearing a skirt of pine needles – because I love the crisp, clear smell of fresh pine.

Trixie the Tough-girl – my touch-sense will be a furry little guy like a dog, because I love stroking dogs, maybe wearing a fleece shirt, sitting by a fire, because I love warmth.

Lilly Lickalicious –  a big carton of milk on a piece of bread, covered in cheese or cereal or something – with a vanilla ice cream cone on top of his head!

Sandy See-woman – My sight angel will be a big tree – like the glamorous fall oak tree of yellow and orange outside of my window – with sparkling blue eyes.

The story goes on…

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD  specialist, artist, author, multidisciplinary educator, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright. Learn more about Amy’s program for colleges here. As creator of Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she’s toured theatres nationwide, after it’s NYC Broadway-World nominated debut in 2012, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness and Broadway Theatre for college campuses and international conferences. Sign up for her newsletter for weekly Detourist tips and updates on her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour.

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