Remember to breathe, smell the ocean, and make time to recharge your soul.

In the perpetual hustle of wearing multiple hats— mine are typically, Husband, Dad, Salesman, Friend, Sponsor, and Volunteer— I need to intentionally calendar time off for me.

I did that all day on Saturday with a long hike to the coast. The smell of the salty air and gentle summer breeze were an elixir to refresh my soul.  I came back refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges pf the week ahead.

Yet, even after a one-day respite, I spent most of Sunday doing everything I didn’t do on Saturday.

I have a tendency to go full board and try to do too much. Part of it may be to make myself feel productive. Part may be to show that I have it all together. Still another part may be that I like to have stuff to do. The irony though is I also like down time.

I call this ambitious laziness. I have, for years, made it a game to go, go, go barely pausing until the next goal, job, or item on my to do list needs to be done. I do things as fast as possible so I can sit and do nothing—ergo, being ambitiously lazy.

Inevitably though, running on the hamster wheel of life at a frenetic pace leads to burnout, short temper, and unnecessary stress. Those closest to me, unfortunately get the backlash of my selfish ambition.

In order to stop this vicious cycle, I am practicing putting time on my calendar for me.  I am also spending time each day to listen to or read something inspirational.

Today,  I listened to part one of a 40 days of Love podcast by Rick Warren. It was so good. Whether you’re a Christian or not, his key message is that we must do everything in love.

That seems simple. It takes a conscious effort.  It means being kind to the checker who is clearly frustrated and a little slower than others. It means listening to your spouse when they want to tell you about their day and NOT trying to fix it. It means telling yourself that it is OK to take a break—to do something that brings you joy.

The importance of being still, meditating, praying, or doing whatever you need to to get centered, is so critical to our health and happiness.

So today, when I had some chest pains, I paid attention to my body and went to my doctor. He sent me to the ER for tests. I didn’t want to because I was afraid of what might be and worried about the expense of an ER visit. But after discussing it with my wife over text, I realized that I was making the right decision.

After the doctor examined me, did and EKG, and took blood, he later informed me that there were no indications of any heart incident. No scolding. No condemnation about exercise, lifestyle or habits. No lectures to eat more veggies…Just a matter of fact, professional, qualified assessment of what his tests and exam revealed.

What a relief. I am glad I asked for help and even more grateful that all is well. So is my immediate family.

The bill may be large, but in comparison to my life, I made the right decision. Why am I writing this? Because I have heard no less than 3-4 stories of people who have recently either had a stroke or died and that scares me. We all are faced with many decisions and choices each and everyday. Some are easier than others. When they affect our lives we need to pay attention.

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So for whatever it’s worth, I felt an obligation to share a little of my experience  in the hopes that it may prompt someone out there to be more mindful of their health and put themselves at the top of their to do list for a change. If we do not take care of ourselves, we have nothing to offer others.

Like the flight attendants always say on every flight, “…put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Life is short.  Live it in love.

Love,

Shawn

 

Feeling Stuck?

Ever feel like you’re a human doing instead of a human being?

Are you caught in the rat race of life feeling like there is never enough time to do all you want to do?

I don’t know about you but I go through seasons in life where things seem to be clicking and all is falling into place as I would like.  I am happy and content, and then something shifts.  I say yes to too many things. I become over-extended. I want to do it all yet there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I come home exhausted, burnt-out, and have nothing left for my family.

Fortunately, there is hope and resources to help. You can learn how to “leverage your thought life to live your best life.”

It takes a concerted effort to break out of the Home-Work-Sleep routine to live life fully as, I believe, we were all intended to.

I have been invited to participate in a “Master Your Mindset” web interview series with Darcy Lubow and 8-12 other coaches, trainers, and thought leaders from around the world.

If you feel stuck and want a way to break through some of the limiting  thought patterns, false narratives, and feelings that may be holding you back from your dreams and goals then you’ll want to sign up for this free event.

It will be live July 5-11. Click below for details and to sign up…registration is FREE.

Free Master Your Mindset Web Interview Series

I hope you can join us.

In the meantime, if you’d like to receive future updates about goal setting, and achieving all you we’re intended to, please join my email list.

Email contact

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

We are all destined to leave this world a little better than it was when we came into it. Let’s do it together by starting with ourselves.

Shawn

I love you Dad.

Dear Dad,
I love you and miss you.
Thank you for your love, even when we were apart.

Thank you for showing me what it’s like to be humble; to be curious about our world, faith, and life.
I feel your presence often and know that you are at peace. I only wish we could’ve spent one more day together to talk about life. I get choked up thinking of all we did and all we could’ve done. We missed out on years of connection, but, in the end, like a relationship with a close friend, when we were able to say I love you to each other and have closure it was as if time stood still. I am grateful for all that you were and all that you gave.
When we meet again, we can have that chocolate milkshake I promised you.
Love,

your son Shawn.

It’s never too late to say, “I love you.”

Those three words have the ability to change someone’s life, or, at least their day.  They are three of the most important words to a child’s ears.

wp-1464277254498Simple loving acts of kindness can also spread joy. Watch how much another lights up when you smile at them. Or when you show genuine interest in another or listen intentionally.

Though all are free, each requires a conscious effort to intentionally take our eyes off of ourselves and put them onto another for a moment, without expecting anything in return.

Yet, often what we get back in terms of joy is invaluable.

 

Two nights ago, while on Vacation in Maui, I stood at the sand shower by the pool hosing off my sandy feet. A small toddler walking with his mother paused for a moment to watch. He was clearly fascinated by what I was doing. I looked at him, then his mom. “It gets the sand off,” I said to the little blond boy, pushing the button and dangling my feet beneath the light spray.

“Wanna try it?” I asked, smiling at him.  He hesitated for a moment then stepped closer. He balanced on one leg and placed his tiny foot under the shower. Beaming, he looked at me for approval. “Good job. Pretty cool eh?”

He beamed and stepped back as I rinsed my other foot. He then moved forward again to do the same.

This was a moment, frozen in time, which I will probably remember for the rest of my life. Will the young lad? Perhaps.

The point is, life is too short to miss opportunities to spread joy; to be loving and kind.

It also made me miss my own son and my dad.

In February of this year I delivered a five-minute talk about my memoir, Beyond Recovery.

My goal wasn’t to convince anyone that they need to get sober. No, my goal was to share that it is OK to let people know you love them and that forgiveness is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

Several close friends and family sat around a long table listening intently as I began reading an excerpt from Beyond Recovery entitled Second Chances. As I scanned the audience, I noticed others leaning in. Some even had tears welling up.

I never really know what will reach someone. Each time I practice telling my story I have to try a few things before I know what works.

I took my seat after answering several good questions then listened to a few other speakers.

When the event was over, the soundman approached me as I began to leave.

He asked if my dad had always said I love you. I paused for a moment, “Yeah, I guess so.”  I replied.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because mine never did,” he said, eyes looking away…

He talked a bit about it. I listened, but didn’t press. I sensed that it was still a sore subject.

He thanked me again for sharing a piece of my story—said it touched him.

“You made my day. Thank you!” I replied, shaking his hand.

We all yearn for two things: Love and Acceptance

Father’s day is this Sunday. Even if your relationship is less than perfect with your father, I encourage you all to let him know you love him. If he is no longer here, perhaps you could write a love letter. Trust me; it will change your world.

If you are a dad, most kids will always love you.  It’s OK to say I love you to them. They need to hear it. If you are a single mother encourage your kids to talk to their dad, if possible.
My hope and prayer and goal by sharing a piece of my heart, that you too will find that which you seek. Sometimes you have to give it before you receive it.

Here’s the excerpt I read.  You can order Beyond Recovery through any local bookstore or on amazon

 

Beyond Recovery A Journey of Grace, Love, and Forgiveness

Chapter 25
Second Chances

 

Miracles and Milkshakes

Whether you believe there are no mistakes or not, I do. I have seen things happen so many times that seemed wrong or painful or didn’t make any sense. When I looked within, prayed, or talked it out with another, I learned to walk through whatever it was that was causing me agony inside. I came through. I survived. …

Miracles happen every day. So do tragedies, I wish I could say the story ends here and we all lived happily ever after…that’s only in movies and fairy tales.

In October of 2005 I got a call from my mom …

“Your aunt called and said that your dad is very sick. You should go see him,” she urged. “He’s at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.”

Shit. Here we go again. Another hospital visit. Why me? Why now?

“Okay. I’ll stop by after work.”

My heart pounded as I parked the car.

Is it too late? What if he’s going to die? How am I going to handle this?

Suffocating from the ‘what ifs,’ I said a short prayer.

“God, please grant me the strength and courage to face this situation. To accept it for whatever it is. To come from a place of compassion and let my dad know how much I love him.”

I walked into the hospital and asked the receptionist which room he was in.

She gave me the number and pointed to the room. I walked down the dimly lit hall. It was quiet. The room was dark. My dad lay in a hospital gown. He’d lost forty to fifty pounds since I last saw him three years earlier. Salt and pepper stubble covered his gaunt face. He looked very frail.

Our eyes met. His warm smile melted away all the pain and hurt and anger of the past thirty-five years.

My heart glowed with his beaming smile. He was truly delighted to see me. In that moment he showed me what it was like to let go of the past. In that moment, despite his body giving up, he was radiant.

His smile filled my heart with so much joy. I was so, so glad it wasn’t too late. I really don’t know how I could’ve handled it if I was too late.

“Hi Dad!”

“Shawn,” he chuckled, “you look good!”

“Thanks Dad,” I said, giving him a hug. “So what’s going on?” I asked, trying to be strong.

“Some infection…they don’t know.”

“Wow. You’ve lost a lot of weight,” I remarked, feeling a little uneasy and very concerned about his health. His smile didn’t match his body. But he was at peace—I could see it in his warm brown eyes. He’s letting go, I thought.

The stubble on his face reminded me of all the times he’d given me a hug and a kiss goodnight as a kid. I felt safe. I looked up to my dad so much as a young child. I could brag that my dad was a fireman! When he left us, all that changed. The love I felt was replaced by anger and hurt. He had abandoned me and my two brothers, and I let it imprison me. I drank over it so I wouldn’t have to face the feelings. But now, the love we shared for so many years was stronger than ever. It enabled me to push through the layers of resentment, like a seedling reaching for the sunlight in spring.

As I held his hand, I felt all that love come rushing back. Fond childhood memories rushed forward. After baths as a child, he would dry my hair by vigorously rubbing it with a towel. I loved that. Now, as we talked about life and how much I loved him, once again, I asked for his forgiveness for all the anger I had held from the past.

Without thinking about it, I began to rub his head—a comforting gesture he had done for me so many times as a kid.

“Dad, I love you.”

“Ha!” he chuckled. His eyes expressed peace, love and care. “I love you, too, Shawn. I’m sorry we lost Seth.” His voice trailed off a bit. (We hadn’t really talked about the loss of my brother since the time several years earlier. I had made amends with this as part of my recovery.) Still, his words touched a piece of the wound that still existed.

“Please let Kelly know I love him, too,” he continued. “Even though I never got to see you boys much, I thought about you often. You were always with me,” he said, holding his hand close to his heart, smiling. Tears streamed down my face. “I know, Dad. I know. It wasn’t easy, but we all turned out all right.”

“Yeah, I’m proud of you, Shawn.”

I wiped the tears from my face. “Thank you. I love you, Dad. Is there anything you’d like?”

“A milkshake,” he replied quickly with a childlike smile.

“A milkshake?”

“Yeah—chocolate.”

I smiled at the simplicity of the request.

“I’ll get you a milkshake the next time I come back, okay?”

“I’d like that.” We hugged and said our goodbyes.

That was the last time I saw my father. He passed shortly thereafter.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make it back to get him his chocolate milkshake. I feel a little guilty. I could’ve just gotten it that day. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I see him again. Now, every time I have a milkshake, I think of my father. I imagine us sitting on a park bench watching the ducks, sipping on a milkshake together. Somehow, that helps assuage my guilt. I feel blessed that I got to say goodbye. This experience also serves as a reminder to make peace with those closest to us—to cherish the time that we do have. Our life on this planet is so very brief. Depending on your beliefs, there’s plenty of time for milkshakes in Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposed – Local Author Gets Real

Public speaking usually tops the list of things most people fear.

I’ve found that when I do that which I fear most, confidence and joy typically follow.

The first time I had to give a talk in front of a crowd I was in grammar school. I hated it. I was mortified.  Filled with anxiety and worry that I would suck, I stood there with sweaty palms wondering if I would have anything worthwhile to say. Would I stumble over my words, and saying lots if “ums” and “ahs”? That was many years ago. Despite all my fears, I lived through it.

Last Thursday, before delivering my first truly public talk about my memoir, Beyond Recovery: A Journey of Love, Grace and Forgiveness at Many Rivers Books in Sebastopol, I was a nervous wreck.

Shawn Langwell - Many Rivers Book Reading - Sebastopol - 6-1-17

Shawn Langwell – Many Rivers Book Reading – Sebastopol  6-1-17 Photo: Dale Godfrey

As the hour of reckoning drew closer, I psyched myself out wondering if anyone I invited would show. Most did. I was thrilled when the founding pastor of our church arrived. I had prayed all day that he would be there. I smiled and gave him a big hug, and thanked him for coming.

Later, as I began my talk though, I was afraid I’d drop a few cuss words and worried that I might mess up. I also wondered how the mixed crowd would accept or reject me talking openly about my faith, my struggle, and my recovery journey. How would they receive my stories of love, acceptance and forgiveness? Would they even know the inner terror I was feeling?

It didn’t matter, I had chosen to do this. I was committed and went for it.

Was it the best talk I’d ever given? No. Far from it. It did, however, give me that extra little bit of confidence to do things a little different next time. For example: I need to practice a little more, be lighter, and share from more from my heart in the beginning of my talk and not rely so heavily on my notes. I believe this will help me connect more  and build a stronger relationship with my audience.

Perhaps I am being too hard in myself, but the point is, I am walking through uncharted territory which is scary and exciting.

I have found that the greatest growth happens when I stretch my comfort zone and venture out into the unknown.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

-Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

Want to turn doubt into confidence?

Are you ready to trust yourself, feel safe in following your intuition, get doubt, fear and confusion out of the way, and get to living the dream life you’ve been working toward?

Can you allow yourself to dream right now?

Imagine feeling safe, confident and excited about following your gut instincts. Imagine turning your intuitive feelings into tangible action and watching your dreams turn into reality.

My colleague Darcy has the solution for you!

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Join her Free 5-Day Challenge where she will show you what she has done to turn self doubt into self trust, create results toward that dream life you know is possible by following her intuition so you can do the same in your life.

I know you will get a lot from her.

Here’s the FOCUS!

How to Finally Trust Yourself & Your Intuition so that you can turn your dreams into tangible results now, regardless of what you’ve been through or already tried.

What you’ll get from this Free 5-Day Challenge:

  1. Why now is the perfect time to put fear to the side and take the leap of faith on your dreams
  2. Uncover the skills and abilities you already have that completely qualify you to start trusting yourself first and foremost
  3. Identify what has stood in the way of you really trusting yourself so you can turn doubt into trust and confidence
  4. Define your dream life in tangible ways and begin taking action to live it now
  5. How to develop your intuition and understand the subtle messages your inner voice is sending so you can turn your dreams into tangible results with confidence and joy and discover how others are enjoying the fulfillment that comes with becoming successful—and how you can too!

Join the challenge now

My intention is that this is landing in your inbox at just the right time. Also, as a bonus, when you sign up for this challenge you will automatically be included in a web interview series that I will be featured in! (Details to come in July)

Join the tribe & let’s get you the results you’ve been waiting for.

Join the challenge now

See you there,

Shawn Langwell

Vulnerability takes courage, so does creativity.

Why is it so hard to be ourselves?

Have you ever thought, what if so and so knew that about me, what would they think? What if they knew I was judging them, or didn’t like them?

Letting down our guard is risky. It takes vulnerability. How do we respond when we are in a funk but someone asks us, “How are you?”

“Fine. Doing fantastic. Never Better.” We smile our best smile, hoping they don’t see through our facade.

“How about you?” We may ask, merely out of politeness, really not giving a rip about the other person because deep inside, we’re really not fine. We may be struggling to make ends meet. The car might have just broke down. Or, while rushing to get to work on time, we spilled coffee on our shirt when we slammed on the brakes not seeing the back up in front of us. Then, we do our best not to get more angry, even though we want to scream, ( Sometimes I do – It’s safe in the car with the windows up and the stereo blasting!) as we crawl along the 101, stuck in traffic for an hour and a half  to drive a mere eighteen miles!

To protect ourselves we don masks. Sometimes, they are necessary. After all it’s probably not a good idea to waltz into the office and dump our crappy day on everyone else. Instead, we arrive at the office with a painted Monday morning smile, “We’re fine.”

We pretend to be OK even when we had a lousy day. I get it. If we really aren’t doing fine, we don’t want to bring everyone else down especially if we are having a really shitty day.

Now I am making an assumption that we have all had to put on a happy face from time to time even if we really didn’t want to. But somehow we have to deal with that stuff inside that gnaws at us.

That’s why I am grateful that I have a couple close friends and a community that I can go to when I am walking through some challenges.

My struggles today are gold-plated compared to what they were 30 years ago. Nonetheless, I find it incredibly helpful to talk with others whom I trust to walk through some of the stuff I am going through. Case in point, I am in the midst of putting together my next book  on goal setting. Yet I keep getting stuck. My friend suggested I map it out. How ironic that the book I am writing is about planning and walking through fear, change, and setting goals, and that I have to apply what I am trying to write about BEFORE I can write about it.

So yeah, when I’m going through change and out of my comfort zone, I get cranky. Today is one of those days. It will pass.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Creativity Takes Courage.”

So does vulnerability. For now, I’ll keep on keeping on.

Hope you days are good and filled with joy.

More to come soon.

Shawn