Feed your dreams, not your fears

My step father once said,
“What are the dots in your life?”
As in, I did x dot, dot, dot then y dot, dot, dot.

I didn’t fully grasp it at the time but now it’s a little more clear.

What he was saying is to pay attention to the pauses in life—the thoughts, moments of mediation, reflection and of being not doing. Sage advice. Thank you, Dave O’Connor!

As he and my mom age I am reminded how very short this life we have is.

In November last year, my mother took her second big fall. This time she was partially paralyzed and forced to recoup in nursing home for five weeks. Meanwhile, her ninety-year-old husband of twenty-eight years and my stepfather was battling age related memory loss and required a caregiver to assist with meals and meds. To top it off his son attempted to assert control over David’s health and finances. It was a nightmare, but we survived.

My wife graciously cared for my mom for six weeks after she was released from the nursing home and eventually moved in with us for four months. When the six weeks leave of absence for my wife was up, my work was generous enough to allow me to work from home, so I could care for her until we were able to sell their house and find a new place for them.

For four months, I was not able to break free to recharge. I was unable to make time to feed my soul. I desperately needed to hike the coast, to be in nature, to reconnect with my spirit. I needed to pay heed to the other dots in my life. Once their house closed escrow and we got them all settled in one of the first things I did was take a long hike along the West Marin Coast.

Even though I battled fears my mom would never be able to live on her own again, I trusted everything would work out the way it was supposed to. Fortunately, it did.

In hindsight, everything happened exactly as it was supposed to. My mom and Dave are now in a place in Petaluma where they can maintain their independence while having meals and cleaning services provided.

Though I did the right thing, those few months sapped my soul to the core. Now, I make it a point to carve out time for me to rekindle my inner spirit. To dream again. This year has been a challenge but despite it all me and our family have been blessed beyond measure. I don’t take anything for granted and am even more intentional about investing my time on the important things.

The past three years my wife has chosen a word as a focal point for something she wanted to work on that year.  It worked. Last year I watched her whole life transform as she lived out her word, confidence. My word for 2018 was focus. I have accomplished virtually everything I set out for myself and more. When it is all said and done, my relationships are stronger, my faith has grown immeasurably, I joined Toastmasters and even pushed myself to go back to school.

I am feeling pulled to grow even more in the year ahead and that is both frightening and exciting. I know in my soul that I need to dream bigger. So big, in fact, that I must rely on the divine forces of the universe to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I am growing to trust my higher power even more. From a logical standpoint, there is really no reason to live in fear or doubt. I could list hundreds of experiences where I was given exactly what I needed, despite any of my best laid plans.

2019 will be a milestone year. The events and blessings to come from faith, effort and my willingness to grow will set the course for the rest of my life. The dots will be many. I will walk through every moment of fear with a quiet certitude that there is a plan for me and my only job is to seek and trust that inner voice which guides me— my responsibility is to put one foot in front of the other and march forward into the vast unknown. In so doing, my prayer is that the dreams I live and achieve will ignite many others to aspire to whatever change they seek.

I am more determined than ever. This year, my word is commitment.

From The Mountains to the Sea, Unplugging improves your health

 

Hike Shell to Pebble Beach

When’s the last time you smelled the fresh mountain air filled with the scent of pine, or heard the wind cascade across the treetops sounding like a sporadic waterfall?  Or took a leisurely stroll through a Giant Redwood forest, a walk certain to evoke an immediate sense of serenity as you stepped through the towering giants?  How about a trip to the ocean where you sat among the dunes, listening the steady roar of waves, feeling the salty air on your skin, and the sand between your toes?

Mountain air, being in forests, and frequent visits to the ocean are known to to be good for your mind, body and spirit.

I always feel better when I hike through a forest or take a trip to the beach.

Unfortunately we all spend too much time in front of screens which leads to all kinds of stress and health issues.

According to blog by Katie Moritz, https://www.rewire.org/living/adults-screen-time-limits/ it’s not just kids addicted to their screens. Adults, on average spend 11 + hours per day in front of a screen of some kind. That’s nearly half our day and 75% of our waking hours.

It’s no wonder I feel so stressed out by the end of the week.

It’s important to UNPLUG. Nature is where I go for peace and serenity.

From forest bathing to sunbathing, nature is God’s natural elixir to reduce stress and promote a healthy mind, body and spirit. There’s actually scientific evidence to explain what happens:

Forest Bathing  (Shinrin-yoku) is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere”  and was developed in the 1980’s in Japan. www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html It has become a cornerstone of preventative health in Japan and is now beginning to spread into the US. Breathing the air in a forest has been show to lower the stress hormone Cortisol. In other words, taking a walk in a forest is good for you.

Limantour Beach Point Reyes Seashore

Limantour Beach Point Reyes Seashore Photo by Shawn Langwell

Equally important for your health are regular trips to the ocean. Sea air is rich in negative ions which help accelerate your body’s ability to absorb oxygen, and balance the mood hormone, serotonin. As a result you often feel more relaxed and less stressed when you breath the ocean air. Also, the wind and waves help create a meditative state that helps clear your mind and reduce stress. That buzz of wind and waves actually has a name: “thalassotherapy”, a term coined by Hippocrates.

This past week I was fortunate to spend two days relaxing in the Sierra’s with my wife and soaking in hot natural mineral baths, also good for your skin, mind, body and soul.

Sierra Hot Springs Sierra Ville

Meadow from Campsite at Sierra Hot Springs Photo by Shawn Langwell

 

It did wonders, for me. But I returned to a mountain of work that needed to be done. By  Tuesday I was already uptight and felt the need to go to the coast. So I did just that and  was so relaxed when I returned, I ended up sacking out at 9:30, way earlier than usual.

Today is the fourth of July and I am procrastinating working on my next book, Beyond Goal Setting. Snippets of inspiration have flowed to me throughout the past several days. For now, however, I felt compelled to share a little insight on what I do to keep sane and find balance between a stressful job and being creative.

Blogging and sharing is a part of what helps me feel useful. Sharing stories of what helps me is what I am all about. My hope, with anything I write or share, is that you become inspired to place a higher priority on your own mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

In Sonoma and Marin Counties, it will be gorgeous this weekend, I encourage you to take time away from the chores, laundry, and binge watching Netflix, and go for a walk in a forest or splash in the waves.

I’ll likely be at the beach boogie boarding and playing golf this weekend.

In health,

Shawn.

Shawn is an author, speaker and salesman who lives in Sonoma county with his wife and three young adults. He published Beyond Recovery in November of 2016 and is currently working on a new book, Beyond Goal Setting. When he’s not working, writing or spending time with his family, he’s likely hiking in West Marin or boogie boarding along the Marin Coast.

For more stories, please visit, www.shawnlangwell.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One step at a time…

Two weeks ago I took I took a much needed day off to recharge. I had pushed myself to exceed my sales goals at work over the past several weeks and was rapidly reaching a point of burnout.

My idea to unwind was  to take a 10-12 mile hike to Alamere Falls along the Palomarin Trail of the picturesque Point Reyes Seashore in West Marin.

Ironically, I had been talking about making this hike for a long time, but never made it a priority to actually do it. I looked at pictures, maps, and blogs to plan my trip, but always found a reason why now was not a good time. Then the rains came. Which meant even more water to feed the falls. But the trail would be too muddy to hike, I rationalized, while sitting at home wishing I could do it.

One night I saw a picture on Facebook of my friend standing in front of the falls with the most joyful smile.

I have to do this soon, I thought, but never set a date. Another few weeks passed, followed by even more rain. Then, one evening, I saw a picture of that same friend standing atop the Andes in Ecuador. He looked at peace-happy. He had made a monumental climb. One that undoubtedly required, planning, conditioning, and time to acclimate to the altitude, but he didn’t give up, he had persisted.

When I saw that, I became even more motivated to make time to hike to the falls.  I finally reached the point where I wanted it bad enough-it looked just too beautiful to not experience first hand. I picked a date and committed to making it happen. Sure, there was a bit of envy and jealousy associated with seeing my friend’s glorious outdoor excursions, but I had to do this for me.

Several more storms pounded the Northbay over the weekend prior to my planned date.  I worried that I may have to change my plans. Fortunately there was only a 30% chance of rain on the Monday I’d be making the trek.

The morning came, I packed some rain gear, a delicious salami, prosciutto, and mozzarella sandwich,  Jalapeno Kettle chips, and a bottle of sparkling water and set out for Bolinas.

As I glanced at the trail map it looked a little daunting- 14 miles to the falls it said- it would take an average of four to five hours. I paused and told myself, you can do this, and stepped onto the trail.

A couple miles in my legs started to get sore. I had not hiked for more than 10 miles before and second guessed whether I was in shape enough to do this. Before long, though, I could see the Pacific ocean. It was a spectacular view and motivated me to press on.

Just past Bass Lake the trail wound through some woods. I stopped, looked up and heard nothing except the trees whispering and a few birds chirping. I held my hands to the sky and thanked God for the silence. Chills overcame me. This is what my soul craved, I said to myself.IMG_1120

Feeling recharged I continued on, winding my way out of the woods, along a narrow path, to an incredible overlook.

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The air was fresh and alive with the early signs of spring. Step by step I kept going. Much of the trail skirted the coast. I paused occasionally to drink in all its natural beauty.

Soon, I found a perfect spot to have lunch.

Eventually, I made it to Wildcat Camp, used the facilities, then backtracked along the beach. As I walked along the gravely shore, I noticed the tide coming in. For a moment, I wondered if I would  be stuck, but I could see the falls in the distance… Keep on…don’t quit before you finish, I thought.

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As I made the final steps to the falls I was overcome with elation. I felt the coarse sand  between my toes as I sat in stillness, allowing the calm cascade of the falls to sweep away any stress I had felt over the previous weeks and months. A seal bobbed its head and looked briefly toward the shore before swimming on in search of a tasty snack.

I love goals. I have always found them to be an exciting challenge. This one may not seem like a big deal for some, but for me it was. I was not nearly in as good of shape as I thought, but I made it.

Here’s to many more  waterfalls, waves, and sunsets. To open grassy fields and fresh, clean air. To letting go and letting down your hair. To leaving the stress behind, without a care. Here’s to dreamers everywhere. May you set your sights on high and take the first step to your dreams and goals, and listen to the silence with a sigh.

May we all remember to take the time to stop and hear the roar of the falls or the crashing waves in our ever increasingly busy lives.

Love ,

Shawn