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!

headshot-april-2017_1_orig

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

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” – Lao Tzu

The first step in any endeavor is always the most difficult.

For some the fear of failure keeps us stuck where we are and trying to find the courage to begin often becomes paralyzing. We think of all the things that could go wrong and may worry that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough, brave enough, educated enough or whatever.

For others, the converse is true. It may seem silly, but there are many people who are actually afraid of success.

It doesn’t matter what it is that we seek,the reality is that it takes courage to start.

When it comes to addiction this can’t be more true. Millions have vowed to never drink again or ____ (fill in the blank). Yet, for those, like me who have addictive tendencies, the day comes again when temptation and desire overpowers any modicum of self will and, once again, we’re off and running.

For me this was a vicious cycle that, though it only lasted a short time, brought me to my knees, begging for help.

When I was nearing the end of my drinking career I vividly recall the utter insanity in my head-

It was a summer day in 1986. Stoned, coked out, and drunk, my heart pounded inside my chest.  I laid on my back in my 8′ x 8′ room staring at the 7′ wainscot ceiling above gasping for each breath, afraid that if I fell asleep I would not wake up.

My mind raced. Voices entered into my head as if they were speaking to me. I heard my mom telling me to get help. Others- my grandmother, my brother, and close friends and relatives, all implored me to get help. They were all talking over each other. I got scared. The room started to spin and I couldn’t shut the voices off. I put one foot on the floor hoping it would stop the room from spinning. It helped for a bit but the voices clamored on- “You need help.” “We love you!”  “Hang on.” Each one seeming to call out to me like angels from on high.

I heard them but wanted them to go away. I thought I was either going insane, dying, or that I may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.

“God help me!” I cried out. “Make it stop!”

That incident was the catalyst that brought me one step closer to seeking help.

As many before me, I wasn’t done yet. I thought I could control it. I would stop for two or four days then be right back at it for another week or more.

Near the end, I recall actually going to a bar one night with the intention of getting wasted. I ordered a double-nothing. I ordered two more. Still nothing. Alcohol had stopped working.

Why? Because I was an alcoholic; I had lost the ability to control my drinking.

But I had not yet been beaten down to the point of admitting it. That would take a few more crazy episodes, one in which I literally hallucinated that my mom had called an insane asylum. They were going to put me in a straight jacket and take me away.

Eventually I gave in. I admitted lost the ability to control my drinking and checked into a 28 day rehab. That was on October 10, 1986.

After three days of detox, I was introduced to the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Step One:
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives were unmanageable.”

I was beaten and fully surrendered to taking the first step toward a journey that would change the course of my life forever. For that, I am eternally grateful.

This is the first of  twelve posts, in which I will outline a portion of my experience with the twelve steps for one sole purpose- to carry the message of hope for those who still suffer.

If you or someone you know has struggled or you are currently in recovery, I encourage you to follow this series. Share it if you want. I am just another alcoholic who has not found it necessary to drink or use drugs, one day at a time, since October, 10, 1986.

Step One
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—
that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Expect a miracle, every day.

Miracles happen all the time. Regardless of whether we choose to call them miracles or chalk them up as mere coincidence, one has to admit that some things are beyond logical explanation.

I have experienced so many miracles in my short time on this planet that I literally could write a book about them. Perhaps, someday I will.

One that comes to mind was on a trip to Disney World fifteen years ago. After months of planning and preparation, the big day had arrived. My first wife, son, and I boarded a plane and flew to sunny Orlando. Even though I was a little edgy from not getting to smoke for nearly five hours, my excitement overshadowed my nicotine withdrawals, or so I thought.

We climbed into our rental car and began our way to the condo in Celebration, FL. That’s where things started to go sideways. I was aware that there were several toll roads in Florida and had packed change to pay for them. What I didn’t realize though, is how many there were from our short drive from the airport to the condo. It seemed that every mile or two I had to reach for more small bills or change.

Most of the toll booths were unmanned and required you to toss change into a scoop. Somewhere around the second or third one I started to get frustrated and was running out of small bills and change.

With my wallet in my lap for easier access, I approached yet another toll booth. This one required me to toss coins, not bills. I was out of change and had to pop the trunk to get more change  from my luggage. I grabbed a handful of change, shrugging my shoulders at the driver behind me, then dropped some in the big scoop before getting back into the car to pull away.

It wasn’t long before we approached another toll booth. This one required bills. I reached down to pull some singles out of my wallet and it wasn’t there. I panicked. I asked my wife to look on the floor. It was nowhere to be found.

A line of cars began to form behind me. My blood sugar was crashing. I was tired and wanted a cigarette. I felt so helpless.

Now what?!, I thought. We came all this way and now I’ve lost my wallet. This is a disaster. I am a F**K up. How could I be so stupid? I probably dropped it on the ground at the last toll plaza. How do I get out of this? 

“Dammit, I lost my wallet” I cussed. “I have to go back,” I said to my wife. So I blew through the toll crossing,  flipped a dangerous u-turn to head back to the previous toll gate.

I parked the car on the shoulder and searched anxiously for my wallet, but, it was nowhere in sight.

I began to sob. Once again I had let my family down. My irritation and impatience had gotten the best of me.

“Now what?” my wife asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, wiping the tears from my eyes.

We found a diner, ate something, and got cash using her card. Shortly after we ate, we checked into our condo. As soon as we got inside, I grabbed the local phone book (this was before smart phones and the internet) to look up the local police dept.

Long story short, a miracle happened. As it turned out, a woman behind us had spotted me dropping my wallet, picked it up, and turned it into the local authorities. She happened to work as a nurse, mere blocks from our condo and, fifteen minutes later, an officer came by to return my wallet. Nothing was missing.

Miracles do happen.

Three days ago I received a text from my half-brother, Tyler, whom I had not spoken to in over twenty five years. My step-sister, Lori had reached out to me a year or so ago on Facebook and was instrumental in reconnecting me with Tyler. They both had read my book and Tyler sent me a text the day before yesterday thanking me for sharing some of the family history that he was not aware of. He also sent me a text asking for my opinion about “something.”

Now, my mind was reeling with all the what-ifs that he may want to ask, not to mention what I may say to a brother I barely knew.

Sometimes we have to take a deep breath and trust that the right words will come out and walk through any fear or apprehension and make the call. So I did.

We started talking and within minutes, I felt connected. I felt like I knew him. He is my blood. He is my brother.  We chatted for a bit, before I asked what advice  he needed. Tyler said mentioned that he has a friend  who is struggling with addiction and wanted to know what to do.

I shared what I could  from my experience and suggested that he offer to take him to a meeting. And, if he doesn’t want to go that, “all you can do is love him, but maintain your own boundaries.”

“I don’t want to enable him. I may have to give him some ‘tough love’,” he said. I smiled. He knows a little about this stuff. How cool, I thought.

Folks, this conversation and the re-connection with my brother is a miracle. So is the fact that my primary purpose of writing Beyond Recovery was to help at least one person. It appears to have done that.

Tyler and I will plan to hang out in the months to come as soon as this nasty storm passes.

In the meantime, may we all face the storms of our own lives with the quiet confidence that there is something far greater than us guiding us, watching over us, and protecting us. We need only trust in that power and learn to expect a miracle everyday.

Love,

Shawn

“Thy will, not mine, be done.”

I awoke four times in the middle of the night to pee. 

One o’clock, two o’clock, three.

Woke up the last time at 4:04. “Sorry, go back to sleep.”I said to my wife as she rolled out of bed, heading for the door.

Too early to think with a head so foggy, only five hours of sleep – I still feel groggy. 

Yet after she got up and quietly closed the door, I thought briefly of hitting the floor. Instead, my mind took off. The starting gun had fired. Why does my mind do that, when I’m so very tired?

I made some coffee and began to think, my mind wandered off in self-will- to that dangerous neighborhood, where thoughts usually stink.

I paused, sipped my coffee, and grabbed my phone. Not for Facebook, email, or reading. No. Instead I began to write a few words- in search of a meaning.

Why was I awake at this cold dark hour? Perhaps it was to be still, let go of self-will and ask God for help; to do what I know works best- to turn my day over to my higher power.

Yes, that’s what I believe, because things happen for a reason. Even if I don’t know why, I’m beginning a new season. Christmas is over and the new year draws near. I’m practicing living without any fear. 

It starts by me asking God for courage, guidance, and strength. In a morning prayer where I let go, turn it over and say, “Thy will, not mine be done.” 

Happy New Year all! Now let’s have some fun!