Posted in Blog, Life as I know it

Greetings from Kauai!

I thought I would write a couple of posts while I was here, but honestly, I’m having too much fun to be on the computer (besides cramming in a bit of homework in the early mornings. We’re still on mainland time, which means we’re waking up between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. in the mornings, lol).

Before I share pictures and details from our trip (so far), I wanted to alert you to a special sale on Loving the Wind that starts tomorrow. DO NOT MISS THIS SALE! Sign up for my newsletter HERE and I’ll email you tomorrow so that you can read the story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan at a discounted price (plus, you get a different free book!).

Here’s a quick recap of our trip so far. We traveled all day on Tuesday to get here. All. Day. Seriously. We left the house at 5:30 a.m. California time, and arrived at our condo around 6 p.m. Hawaii time. Added up, that’s about 15 hours of traveling (and a lot of sitting). We were spent! But we arrived just in time to see the sunset from our lanai. It was well worth the wait. Because we couldn’t wait, we hiked down to the beach and took an evening swim in the ocean. The water was warm and refreshing, nothing like the freezing ocean in Northern California!

Wednesday, we woke up at 2:30 a.m., and after an hour, it was clear there would be no going back to sleep. So we got up early and got our busy work out of the way, had breakfast out on the lanai, and enjoyed the early morning before anyone was awake. Then we took a drive out to Hanakapi’ai for a 4 hour hike. This hike was 2 miles to a beach, with lots of steep hills, slick mud, and rocky trails, surrounded by stunning views, greenery, and tropical smells. I seriously used up half my breath just smelling the air. It was heavenly. It was also a really tough hike. It wasn’t so much the uphill climbs (though some of those were brutal), it was the downhill slippery slopes that did me in. I managed to stay upright the whole time, but took everything I had.

We reached the beach and chilled for a little while, enjoying the surf (which was intense) and the sun. Then we hiked the 2 miles back. At the last 1/2 mile, Shawn (my husband) stepped down wrong and twisted his ankle. We had already passed one woman who had hurt herself and was being helped by her family to make the trek back. Without help, they’d probably reach the bottom of the hill in about 8 hours. Luckily, we found out she was getting heli-vacced (sp?) out of there. When I saw Shawn go down, I was worried it would be the same for him. afraid he had broken his ankle. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, just twisted or sprained. A Good Samaritan happened to be near us at the same time with a First-Aid kit that had an ice pack. We found out they were from San Jose, California, just south of us, and were transitioning into retirement on Kauai. What a good life….

We made it to the bottom with hands up in the air, our muscles reminding us we weren’t the 20-year-olds who practically sprinted the slick trail. Nope, we’re seasoned human beings who tackled a difficult hike with battle wounds as our bragging rights. We made it!

On the drive back, I told Shawn to stop at a place called Sushi Girl, which I had learned about through a cool Instagrammer that shares Kauai food posts. There, we had some of the best ahi poke bowls the island has to offer, plus a shared bowl of miso soup. We had used up so many calories, this food was SOUL food. I swear, nothing has ever tasted better.

The rain started as we got closer to our condo. It had been sunny the whole morning, and we realized just how fortunate our timing had been. By the time we got to our condo, it was pouring. We chilled at the condo, reading and resting as the rain served as our soundtrack. For dinner, we had grilled ahi and steak, our own surf and turf made by my talented chef husband. Then we went to the resort’s hot tub and soaked in the hot water in the rain. It was a perfect end to the evening.

This morning we slept in until 3:30 a.m. Lol. Both of are feeling our old, tired muscles. I have no idea what’s in store for today. We had an itinerary, but the plans we had kind of fell through. We see this as a blessing in disguise, as we can now create our own adventure depending on our mood. I can still hear the rain outside, so today might be a shopping and sightseeing day.

I don’t think I’m ever going to leave. 🙂

Here are a few pictures from our trip so far.

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The first sunset seen from our lanai.

Watch out for falling rocks! This cave was pretty cool.

Seriously, that view.

The hike was brutal, but how can anyone complain when it was this gorgeous? I couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of our surroundings.

Preparing for the next uphill battle.

If you are ever in Kauai, check out Sushi Girl. Food to die for!

My new favorite food is ahi poke bowls. Seriously, this is all I’m going to eat from here on out.

Two very tired hikers and our healing miso soup.

 

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it, News & Events

Aloha ʻoe!

pool-area
The pool where we’re staying

Life has been a bit busy this week, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet for the past few days. I’ve been working on a research paper that took up most of my time, giving me a glimpse of what it will be like to write for NaNoWriMo and do well in school at the same time. As NaNo gets closer, I am working on building up grace for myself. I hate to project a loss this year, but I am. This will be my first year since I started that I won’t write 50,000 words in a month. However, I will start my novel in November, so that’s exciting!

view
The view from our room!

At any rate, my research paper isn’t actually due until Nov. 2. However, tomorrow we leave for Kauai!!!! I did not want to stress over this paper while on vacation, so I put my nose to the grindstone and worked it out here. There may still be a few tweaks needed for the intro, but other than that, it’s DONE. This is somewhat of a miracle since I have Kauai on the brain. Even now, I keep interrupting my blog writing to check out things near where I’m staying (Princeville, btw, if you have any suggestions!).

A few things I want you all to know:

  1. My husband wrote a book! After 3 years of hard work and digging deep, he has finally finished his memoir, Beyond Recovery. The book tells about life before and after his father left his family, his struggle with alcohol addiction, his journey into recovery, and what life looks like after giving up alcohol. I loved being one of his first readers as his editor, book formatter, and cover designer. The book will be available Nov. 11. Follow him at shawnlangwell.com.
  2. One of my friends just got back from Mexico, and he took Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan with him so he could finish it. He told me he couldn’t put it down, which is music to an author’s ears! I’m telling you this because I will be having a special sale on the Kindle version at the end of this week, and I don’t want any of you to miss it! Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out. If you have read it, I’d be so appreciative if you’d leave a review!
  3. While I’m in Kauai, I’ll be working on the outline for the next book after The Road to Hope. I am itching to work on this novel! It’s been a whole year since I’ve written any kind of book. I really needed the break to just recollect myself (and to also recover from the awesome experience of writing Loving the Wind). But now I’m ready to get back into the game.

That is all! The next time we talk, I’ll be in Hawaii! Aloha!

Posted in Blog, Faith, Inspiration, Life as I know it, Reclaim Your Creative Soul

The story behind “Reclaim Your Creative Soul”

Last week, I was honored to speak to a group of people from my church about Reclaim Your Creative Soul, the book I published earlier this year about making more time for creativity. I began by telling them about my journey toward that book, and then I shared a quick rundown of the necessary steps to varying types of organization—both body, mind, and the space around them—so that their craft can be a priority.

This book is very personal to me. It shares many of the things I’ve come to know in my journey as a writer. I lay out the details of my writing practice, and the different ways I’ve created order in certain areas of my life to free me from distraction and allow me to focus on my craft. But more than that, it shares the spiritual journey I took toward actually writing this book. I’d like to share that with you here.

In August of 2015, I reached my breaking point. My writing was suffering because I felt like I had no creativity left in the tank. My eating habits were out of control, which resulted in weight gain, lack of energy, and a feeling of gross worthlessness. I felt overextended at my job, which was eating away at me even when I wasn’t on the clock. The successful writing career I thought I was going to have was nowhere to be seen. I actually felt like my desire to be a writer was a curse, because everything I wanted was so out of reach, and I was sure I’d be chained to being a 9-5 worker for the rest of my life.

That August, I reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like this huge weight on my chest was consuming me. I knew if I didn’t do anything about it, I was going to go off the deep end. Something needed to change, I just didn’t know HOW. So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I took a day off from everything to focus solely on the three areas of my life that were consuming me the most: my career, my health, and my creativity.

I called this day my “soul retreat.”

During that day, I spent time with God, addressing each area that plagued me and seeking answers on what I could be doing better. I not only came away with these answers, I also received a better understanding of who I was, my worth as God’s creation, and my purpose as a creative person. I gained clarity I was unable to reach before. Most of all, I learned how to breathe again.

(I explain what happened in full detail in my book, and also in an earlier entry of this blog)

At the time, I didn’t know I was going to write this book. But the seeds began to sprout on the day I took my soul retreat. A few months later, I began laying out the bones of Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The Secrets to Organizing Your Life to Make Room for Your Craft. At face value, it was my answer to those around me who wondered how I was able to write books while holding a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else that kept me so busy. But more than that, it was a love letter to myself and those who needed to hear this message: The two biggest obstacles between you and what feeds your soul is fear and a feeling of unworthiness. More than following my guidelines toward structure and organization, my hope is that readers will began to believe they are worthy of contributing their creativity to the world, and that the world NEEDS this creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, the struggle I felt in August is not something that just magically went away . I still reach moments of overwhelm and an inability to focus. Right now, as I’ve rearranged my life to include college courses, I can feel that same weight bearing down on me. But whenever I feel this way, it’s when I know I need to pause and reevaluate where I’m at, where I’m going, and what I need to do to get there. And because of this book, I have a reminder on what needs to happen so that I can keep going.

If you are in a place where your creative life feels out of reach, I encourage you to pick up Reclaim Your Creative Soul and start working the steps toward creative freedom. Writing this book changed my life. I hope reading it changes yours.

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it, Reclaim Your Creative Soul

Being the school kid at 38

booksLast month, I went back to college. Actually, back isn’t the right word. I’ve never actually been to college before, unless you count that time when I taught a college class (true story). While my peers were racking up college loans to further their education, my world was filled with diapers and sleepless nights, and trying to find new ways to soothe a colicky baby. I was so jealous back then, even though this life path was my choice. But when I was stuck at home with a crying baby, I would have given anything to be out doing stupid stuff with people my own age, plus taking college courses.

Of course, I would never have appreciated it as much as I do now—the college courses, not the stupid stuff, lol. The first time I had to meet with my English professor during office hours, I must have repeated how happy I was to be in college at least 3 times. But I am. I’m sitting in classes with students who are 20 years younger than I am, learning stuff I’ve almost completely forgotten since the last time I was in school. There are a few new ways to do things (like, when did all the rules change in math???). But there are also a few things I do remember how to do. And it just feels good to learn new things. In the adult world, things are the same day in and day out. But in school, we’re on this steady incline of learning. I feel stretched and pulled, and I like it.

Plus, I’ve been on top of all my homework. Back when I was in high school, I managed to keep my homework levels to a minimum. Often I’d be doing my assignments during tutorial on the day they were due, or studying for a test the night before. I had the freedom to do this back then, as time was only my own. But now, I have a full time job, a family, and other obligations outside of school. Being lax on my homework is not an option. This week, for example, we had a huge essay assigned on Monday, due Wednesday. I knew this was coming, so I researched my topic over the weekend before it was assigned. I started writing the essay on Tuesday morning before work, then I worked on it during my lunch break, and finished it Tuesday night after my math class. If I hadn’t researched the topic beforehand, I would have choked on this assignment. It really helped to have an outline of what I was going to write before I wrote it.

The one drawback of being in school, however, is my writing is taking a backseat—at least in novel form. This was fine with me when I signed up for classes. I was ready for a break from novel writing so I could catch my breath a bit. But now, I keep getting jolted by novels I want to write, the ideas pulling at me when I’m supposed to be studying. I’m getting bit by the writing bug bad! I’ve even started an outline for my next novel with hopes to write during NaNoWriMo. But honestly, I don’t see how I’m going to be able to write a novel during November. My classes will be in full force at that point, and I use my writing time now for homework. There just isn’t a pocket of time for me to write a book at the speed I need to write for NaNoWriMo.

This is all ironic, of course, since I just wrote a book on finding time for your creative endeavors, even while living a full-time life (Reclaim Your Creative Soul). However, there is one passage in this book that is offering me the grace I need in this busy season of my life:

Your time is important. And if you are dividing your time between your art, a full-time job, raising a family, and the many other arenas of your life, you don’t have much time to waste.

Or, perhaps you feel like you have no time left for your art.

I want to pause here and acknowledge that your time is different from my time, and the time of everyone else who is reading this book. I do not know your circumstance, and I cannot dictate how you spend your time in your life. Some of you who will be able to uncover a few extra hours for your art after reading this chapter. And some of you may only be able to uncover a few minutes. Different priorities require different responses. For example, you may have very little wiggle room if you have a full-time job or are raising a family. However, I’m certain you can amend the time you spend perusing social media or watching TV.

I also want to remind you that there is a season for everything. Parents of young children probably feel more than frustrated about the lack of time left over for their creative endeavors. However, children don’t stay young forever. Eventually they become more independent, and require less of your devoted attention. Same with your job. You may be frustrated because you are working so hard at making someone else money, when you really want to be devoting your time to your art. Your time will come. You may only have an hour or so a day to give to your art, and are a slave to your cubicle for the rest of the day. This makes that one hour so much more valuable. But if you keep at it, using that hour as best as you can, the day may come when you can decrease the amount of hours you spend working for someone else, and increase the amount of time you spend creating. (Reclaim Your Creative Soul: Chapter 8, Managing Your Time)

Here’s where the grace comes in. This season is about furthering my education. It’s where my focus needs to be. In the long run, it will help me to be a better writer. Novel writing will happen, but I have to be patient. Winter break is coming up, and I’ll have 3-4 weeks to lose myself in the novel writing process. Summer break will give me a full 3 months to write seriously. But now? My writing muscle will stay toned through journaling, blogging, and, of course, school and work writing. And this is okay! I’m just getting stronger for when my writing season begins again.

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it, Weekend Recap

Meeting my baby niece

adeline2This past weekend, I was able to meet my new niece, Adeline, for the very first time. She’s already 8 weeks old, but because she lives in Southern California and I’m in Northern California, I haven’t been able to meet her until now. She’s still little, which means many of our conversations consisted of me telling her about the world, and she pooping in my arms.

Adeline is now the 3rd baby in my family, but there are 15 years between her and my youngest kid. I had my kids young. I was 20 when my daughter was born (she’s now 18), and 23 when my son was born (he’s now 15). Back then, I had no idea what I was doing. I had parenting books that contradicted each other. But that didn’t matter because I just read them and did what I wanted, anyway. We made so many mistakes back in those days. But we also did what was right for our family. We must have done okay, because the kids are still alive. 🙂

My sister, Melissa, and I are in completely different worlds right now. She and her husband are adjusting to a sleep-deprived schedule of feedings, diaper changes, and tip-toeing around the house while the baby is sleeping. Everything revolves around their new daughter, and 5 minutes of personal time is now a luxury.

I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I went through the sleep-deprived and kid-centric schedule while my peers were making questionable choices in their college years. But it all paid off. While my peers (and sister!) are having babies now, I’m preparing for the empty nest, and experiencing tons of free time. Well, sort of. I’m busy, but it’s with my own stuff instead of a crazy kid-filled schedule. I did my time in the mommy groups, as a school helper, on the sidelines of the soccer games, in the audience of the dance recitals, cheering on the baseball teams, and struggling through homework I no longer understand.

Now, my kids are leaving the dependent stage and becoming more like friends. They choose to hang out with me, instead of tagging along by obligation. My daughter, who works at Whole Foods, now takes ME shopping (organic food at an employee discount!). My son asks to go out to coffee with me, even offering to pay just so he can have some mom-time (and probably because that’s a sure way for me to insist on paying). They negotiate with me instead of just going along with whatever I say. And while I am sometimes frustrated that it’s not “my way or the highway,” I think I prefer it this way.

They also have their own lives, spending a lot of time with friends and away from the house. I’m starting to get a feel of what it will be like when they’re on their own and my husband and I get to enjoy a quiet house. It will be both wonderful and a bit too quiet. I know I’ll miss laughing at my son’s everyday inappropriate jokes, or letting off steam through a venting session with my daughter. But I also know we’ll all survive this next stage of life, just like we’ve survived all the previous ones.

One thing’s for certain – I am so glad to be done with the baby stage! Being around Adeline, I was reminded about how much work caring for a baby really is. Every second of every day was devoted to her needs. During my stay, I did my best to help my sister with a few household chores, loads and loads of laundry, sorting baby clothes, and taking turns rocking Adeline when she was fussy. But I think the one thing my sister appreciated the most was when she got to spend an hour coloring her hair and taking a long, hot shower while I took care of the baby. She may not get this chance again for awhile. But no worries. In 18 years she’ll have her time back again. 🙂

Meanwhile, I need to figure out when I can see this sweet little girl again. Her baby years are going to pass by in the blink of an eye! After all, I blinked and now my baby is going to college.

 

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it, Weekend Recap

A Head Full of Dreams

When I was fresh out of high school, I discovered this alternative rock band called Coldplay. At first I thought they were pretty cool, especially when they came out with this song:

They released a few more songs, and eventually I was hooked. They became my favorite band, and I couldn’t buy their new albums fast enough.

In 2001, they were coming to the Warfield in San Francisco. I was determined to go. The tickets were $39 apiece. Back then, we didn’t have a ton of money to spare, so $39 felt like a chunk of change. Still, I made it happen.

concert1
My hubby and me, waiting for Coldplay. 🙂

The day of the concert arrived, and I was raring to go. Unfortunately, my gas tank was not. We were on empty with no funds to replenish. We were going nowhere. The concert came and went, and I never got to see this up and coming band perform.

15 years and 6 more albums later, Coldplay announced their “very last” concert tour. Tickets started at $150 apiece, and if you didn’t snatch them up quick, you’d lose. Knowing my obsession with this band, my husband bought us both tickets as soon as they came available, scoring us awesome seats in the stands.

The concert was on Saturday, and I can honestly say

BEST. CONCERT. EVER.

These guys put their all into it. Chris Martin was all over the stage as they played a full two hours of music, touching every single one of their albums. We were all given bracelets to wear that lit up during the concert, changing colors to create a sea of light choreographed to each song. The whole thing was amazing.

concert2
Bracelets handed out before the concert. During the concert, the straps would light up with different colors.

Hopefully this really isn’t their last concert tour. The band is claiming that they are done creating traditional albums, though they swear they’re not breaking up.

When the tour first started, I came across this tear-inducing video of an autistic boy who could not stop crying at Coldplay’s concert. I watched it again yesterday, having experienced the whole concert myself. Yup. Tears!

 

Now that I’ve experience Coldplay in concert, I can honestly say I will never miss a concert again (even if I have an empty gas tank!!!!). Let’s hope they forget this whole “never touring again” nonsense.

Have you gone to any concerts lately? Which ones have been your favorite?

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it

50 shades of sparkling grey

  

 It’s been months since I dyed my hair. Before that, I grappled with stopping. I’d stand there with boxed dye in hand, wondering if I should buy it. My hair was fried. I was tired of spending money on it. I wasn’t even sure if my hair looked better when I did color it. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of the color. After all, grey hair means you’re old. I’m in my 30s. I wasn’t ready to grow old. I mean, what would people think if my hair was partially grey? Would they whisper about me behind my back? Would they think I was letting myself go? Would they think I had just stopped trying now that I was an old married woman?

Inevitably, I’d end up buying the dye. And for 6 weeks I’d go grey-free. And then the roots would start showing and I’d be back at square one, wondering if it was even worth it to dye my hair again. 

But then, one day, I stopped. I stopped seeing the point. I stopped caring what people thought. I stopped trying to make my hair something it wasn’t. I stopped defining my beauty by color.

I stopped dying my hair. 

At first, it was scary. In fact, it was scary for months. I had to keep reminding myself that no one cared about my hair. Soon, I realized it was true. NO ONE CARED ABOUT MY HAIR. I have yet to receive strange looks. At worst, both my mom and sister said I could always dye it again if I changed my mind – because they not-so-secretly hoped I’d change my mind. And it’s true, I could dye it if I change my mind. But something funny happened as the color grew out. 

I started to like the grey. 

I think this has surprised me most of all. I think the grey is beautiful. Right now, I have a long ways to go before the dye grows out. But the grey is mostly in one section of my hair, creating a silver strand that entwines itself in my brown locks. It adds dimension to my braid. It peeks through when I wear it down. It highlights a portion when I pull it back. It makes my hair so much more interesting. 

Plus – and this is the old lady in me talking – I earned those greys. It’s every ounce of life I’ve struggled through, every hurdle I’ve overcome, every kid I’ve raised, every heartache I’ve endured, every worry I’ve lost sleep over… It’s every part of my life that I’ve questioned, and it’s a reminder that I’ve survived. 

So, I’m growing out the greys. And I feel beautiful. 💕

Posted in Blog, Life as I know it

What I did in 2015

In 2015:

– I wrote 3 books

– I published 1 book

– I read 21 books

– I grew stronger in my faith

– I grew deeper in love with my husband

– I became an auntie (due in 2016!)

– I became a homeowner 😊

– I found peace at work

– I found peace with my age (hello, 50 shades of sparkling grey)

– My firstborn became a driver and a high school senior 😳

– My lastborn became a high school freshman 😳

– I gained some weight

– I gained some perspective

– I enjoyed a really, really great year.

I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for me. ❤️

I leave you with this video of the ocean surrounding the Point Reyes lighthouse, where my husband and I trekked down 308 stars to visit, then back up those stairs to leave. Wow, my legs were wobbly! But it was worth it. I mean, look at the view! Plus, there were tons of whales spouting in the water. It was a great way to end the year.