brave honesty // Truth Tribe interview: Samantha Kira Harding

brave honesty // Truth Tribe interview: Samantha Kira Harding

Phoenix soul, are you brave enough to live your dreams . . . even/especially when countless obstacles rise in your path?

What happens when you choose instead to numb those dreams, to stifle them and ignore the very heart of you?

Samantha Kira Harding is a creative warrior: a champion for fellow souls who deal with chronic pain or illness, low income, grief, depression, and more. Samie has seen it all in her own life . . . and instead of hiding it, she's courageous enough to spill her story in hopes that she'll inspire even one other person.

I've been a fan of Samie's for many years. In fact, she was one of the first artists I discovered online when I was fresh out of college, striving to find my identity as an artist in the "real world." Samie's tenacity and truth-telling have always inspired me to choose authenticity, both in my artwork and in my life as a whole.

Samie's life has been far from easy. She has survived and thrived with fibromyalgia / chronic fatigue syndrome for seventeen years. She's also become an advocate for mental illness awareness, following her own experience with grief and depression.

No matter what obstacle rises in her path, Samie finds a way to scramble around, over, or through to the other side. She is one of the bravest women I know.

I'm thrilled and honored to welcome Samie to our Truth Tribe. Her interview in our BRAVE issue is filled with both grit and grace, sharing her signature style of artwork and her compelling story.

Samie says that creativity has saved her life. I asked her to share more about that. Here's part of her reply:

I deal with a lot of anxiety every day. I get super obsessed with the smallest things and fixate on how things aren’t ‘normal.’ It takes a lot of effort to get ready and socialize all day. And if I don’t keep it in check, things can get bad. Like epic panic attack bad.

Art gives me an outlet. When I’m painting or drawing or writing, I’m totally in the flow and forget, for twenty minutes or an hour, that my body is actively trying to drive me even more insane with these constant, unending pain signals. There’s something about creation—mixing paint on the page, drawing a face, or even doodling—that calms me.
— Samantha Kira Harding, Truth Tribe interview, TPS: Brave
artwork by Samantha Kira Harding

artwork by Samantha Kira Harding

Samie's semicolon tattoo hints at her experience with severe depression. She tells part of the story here: "Six months ago I decided to live."

I asked Samie what encouragement she would offer TPS readers who have also struggled with depression. Here's an excerpt:

To have hope. It may seem like you’re in a dark pit and are desperate for sunlight, but it won’t be like that forever. Things can and will get better. And I say that as someone who was as low as you can get while still alive, who started out 2015 with no home, job, car, full of anger and grief from my mother passing, and trying to make it. I had weeks where I could only live five minutes at a time. Where every little thing threatened to drag me back under. But five minutes turned to ten turned to days.

This doesn’t mean I’m magically cured. I take medication and am in counseling. I have a doctor I see every few months and a mental health advocate. I ask my friends for help when things get scary. I also know depression is a liar and the sun always rises. Being around people who love and support me has helped so much, and I feel stronger in my sense of self and just plain braver since opening up.
— Samantha Kira Harding, Truth Tribe interview, TPS: Brave

Opening up and sharing her story has been a big part of Samie's healing and growth. Phoenix, is it time for you to drop your own defenses? Could you tell one person (a trusted loved one, a dear friend, or a supportive counselor) your truth?

Hiding and making yourself invisible never makes the problem go away. When you stifle your true self, you are smothering what makes you who you are. Yes, that includes when you are in pain!

You deserve to be heard, seen, respected, loved, and supported . . . in all your ache AND in all your joy.

And if you aren't quite ready to tell your story to anyone else? Love, please trust your own inner voice. Turn to the page, the canvas, or any safe creative space and spill your truth . . . smear color, scribble words, scratch through it all and start over, and even burn a note if it feels right (and you do it safely, of course!).

Trust your own revealing.
Raise your voice.
Tell your truth.

with deep love & respect,

PS: Have you joined our free soul-tribe? This is a safe space where you can let your true self out to breathe. We honor you. We rise, together.

Interrupted: Anna Lusk (guest poet)

Interrupted: Anna Lusk (guest poet)

unleash your lion-heart // The Phoenix Soul: BRAVE

unleash your lion-heart // The Phoenix Soul: BRAVE