14 Facts of Life from My 40’s

As I approach my birthday next week and my mid-forties, I finally feel like I have a little bit of wisdom to share. So, here are 14 facts of life that I’ve learned in my 40’s.

  1. Having a loving, happy marriage is hard. Not having a loving, happy marriage is harder.
  2. Getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference.
  3. An eyebrow tweezer doubles as the perfect tool for plucking out short, gray hair, especially the ones that stick out on the top of your head.
  4. You’ll never be as young as you are today, so don’t feel old.
  5. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health, so pay attention to what your emotions are telling you.
  6. It’s perfectly okay to take a mental health day once in a while.
  7. Show grace to people, especially those who aren’t gracious. They need it the most.
  8. It’s better to not buy 5 things on sale that you don’t really want and use that money to buy 1 thing at full price that you do want.
  9. Make an effort to get together with your friends regularly (even if you only have energy to put on sweatpants). You’ll be glad you did.
  10. The best gift you can offer someone is a listening ear.
  11. Treat your kids the way you wish your parents had treated you.
  12. Foster creativity in your life. Paint, draw, write, cook, dance, sing, knit … etc.! Your heart will thank you for it.
  13. Sometimes it’s hard to have faith. But not having faith is even harder.
  14. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone just like you. You are important to someone and you are needed in this world.

What insights have you learned about life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

When There are No Shortcuts to Success

Here’s my confession for the month … I’m a competitive person. But while I love to win, I’m not your typical die-hard, competitive person. I’m a lazy, competitive person. Yup, you read that right. 😜 How do I know this to be true? Because I love shortcuts.

In fact, I love shortcuts so much, I’m our family’s resident eyeballer. Why measure things when you can estimate them? It saves so much time and effort, don’t you agree?

The thing with eyeballing though—and taking shortcuts in general—is that you end up missing the mark some a lot of the time. The pair of pants you hemmed for your munchkin might not look so great when one leg is longer than the other. The science project you helped make might not produce the most accurate results. And the book series you thought would take off ended up not doing so great because you chose to write 10k-word stories instead of 40k-word ones. (I’ll leave you to decide which one(s) of these examples may or may not be true. 😝)

An important lesson I’ve learned recently is that there are no shortcuts to success. Cutting corners does nothing except make you think you’ll come out on top. What does count though is hard work. Hard work = long hours + effort. Just as you can’t expect to grow a garden without making the effort every day to water and weed it, you can’t expect to achieve something without putting in the time and work.

This is the reason why I am so stinkin’ proud 💪of myself for finishing a five-book series of novel-length stories. What does this mean exactly? Well, I started out last year with two items on my author checklist. One, write longer books, and two, write a longer series. I challenged myself to go beyond what I was comfortable with and what I thought I was capable of.

It wasn’t easy, believe me! I seriously have more white hair now than a year ago. But when I finished the first Spark Brothers book, I realized I could do it again. And again. And did it, I did! (Try saying that five times fast!) I wrote and released three more books and will be releasing the fifth one in two weeks. All without any shortcuts! (I’ll admit I did think about writing off one of the brothers at one point, so I’d have one less book to write, but I’m thankful I write romance, not horror. 😂)

Regardless of how this series does, I feel very accomplished and happy with my efforts. I’ve developed a little more perseverance and gained a lot more experience. And guess what—writing longer is easier for me now. Which means I’ll likely be making all of my future series five books long! I’m already planning the next one now.

In the meantime, please check out my newest book, An Extra Spark, and order your copy for only 99¢ for a limited time!

Do you take shortcuts? If so, when and why?

A Mid-Year Update (+ A Cover Reveal)

It’s June already! Crazy, isn’t it? What’s crazier is that the munchkins are done with the school year and are officially in vacation mode. Which means I am in full-time Mommy-mode during the day and Author-mode at night. Thankfully, I am a really dedicated night owl. 😉 And it also happens that I just finished the book I’d been working on, so I at least have that off my plate. So, what’s next? Here’s my tentative plan for the rest of the year …

June: Edit and publish the fourth book in my Spark Brothers series. Speaking of which, here’s the cover reveal for At First Spark.

July: Start writing the fifth book in this series, An Extra Spark. I gotta admit, there have been many times when I wish I had made this a family of three or four brothers. It feels like this series will never end! Lol. But I already have a good idea of where to take this final story, so I’m looking forward to writing it.

August: Get the munchkins back to school!

September: Release An Extra Spark. Start writing another book for the Sage Valley Ranch series (this one will be Christmas-themed) to be released in either October or November.

October: Start writing a new series! I’m really looking forward to this. As of now, based on some feedback I got from my newsletter subscribers, it could either be a YA series or a romantic suspense one.

November: Keep writing this new series.

December: Finish writing this series. I’d like to have 3 books ready by the start of the new year so I can rapid release them one month apart in 2020. And maybe take a break somewhere in all of this. 😉

Whew! I’m both excited and exhausted thinking about this to-do list. Lol. But above all, I’m super thankful I get to do a job I absolutely LOVE. And I’m so grateful for the support of readers like you who make this journey so worthwhile. 🙂

Tell me, would you prefer reading a clean/sweet YA series or a romantic suspense one?

I’ll leave you with a super angsty Chinese love song that I’ve been listening to on repeat. It really sets the mood for writing romance and is a lot easier to “drown out” for some reason, probably because I’m using different brain cells to write in English. Lol.

My Hubby, a Champion for Undercats

I like to refer to our neighborhood as a cat sanctuary because on any given day and at any given time, you’ll find two to three cats roaming around. There’s usually one sleeping on a fence and another lying on the grassy area in front of a row of houses. In total, there are about a dozen cats of various shades of gray or orange who live here. Amazingly, the munchkins have named each and every one of them and can tell them apart.

One particular cat has become “our” cat. Munchkin #2 started out by calling her Tin Can for her gray coat. The name eventually morphed to Tinny, then Dinny (don’t ask me why! lol), and now we call her Din for short. 🙂

Din is a sweet, timid cat who loves to go on walks with our family. It’s not unusual to see her running toward us from across the court as soon as we step out of our house. She’ll come up and walk in between our legs, all the while giving us gentle nudges with her head. Then she’ll follow behind us as we stroll around the neighborhood. (Funny story: One time a police car stopped hubby while he and Din were walking, and the cop asked if he had a leash for his dog. It took the cop a second before he realized Din was a cat!)

Here’s Din following hubby and the munchkins around the neighborhood!

One particular day, we decided to venture beyond our neighborhood and out onto the main road. To our surprise, Din followed us! She’d never gone so far from home before, but there she was, dodging in and out of the bushes and doing her best to move her furry little paws to keep up. She made it all the way to the end of the street, about half a mile from home, before the wall of an apartment complex stopped her. Hubby tried to help Din find a way around so she could continue following us, but she chose to stay put. At that point we assumed she’d head back home, so we called out our goodbyes and told her we’d see her later.

We eventually made our way back home and had dinner. After we finished eating, hubby announced he was going to go on another walk and asked if anyone wanted to join him. Both munchkins firmly replied, “No!” because they’d had enough exercise for the day (and maybe the week, haha), so hubby went on his own. About ten minutes later he returned with some surprising news. It turned out Din had been sitting in the same place we’d left her! She hadn’t known how to return home and had been waiting for us for hours. Hours! 🙁

Hubby felt bad, I felt bad, and both munchkins felt so bad that we’d pretty much abandoned poor Dinny. But as bad as I felt, I was also so, so thankful that hubby had gone out to look for her. It shouldn’t have surprised me that he did because that’s just the kind of guy he is. Protective, caring, and a champion for underdogs, or in this case, undercats. 😉

He was once the spirited kid who stood up for other kids who couldn’t stand up for themselves. He was the charming twenty-five year old guy who took his time getting to know a shy young woman who fell head-over-heels for him. He is the devoted father who never fails to tell his kids “I love you” every day and shows his love through the sacrifices he makes for his family. And he will be my husband of 18 years(!) this Sunday, the man who has taught me how to live, love, and laugh more fully and joyfully than I ever thought possible.

After hubby rescued Din, I turned to Munchkin #2 and gave her my best dating advice. I told her, “Make sure you marry someone like Dad. Someone who will go look for a lost cat and lead her home.”

I’m so glad I did. 🙂

Happy 18 years to us! Here are some pictures from our engagement photo shoot from 19 years ago. I’m so glad we took them because we haven’t looked like this in a long, long time! 😉

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

I’ve met a few mean people in my lifetime … my grandmother who raised me … the girls in junior high who laughed behind my back … and the execs of a company I worked at who liked to have scream fests in front of everyone.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been mean myself. Since having kids, I’ve lost my cool over the smallest things and have yelled more times than I care to remember. I know what it’s like to be mean. Do you know the one thing I’ve discovered to be true about people who say and do mean things?

They’re not happy people.

How do I know? Because as in the words of Elle Woods of Legally Blonde, one of my favorite movies: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

On the other hand, people who aren’t happy are the ones who lack endorphins. They’re more likely to hurt the people around them. Unhappy people are mean people who make other people unhappy.

Yup.

Sometimes it’s a conscious decision to do so, sometimes it’s not. Regardless, there comes a time when all the yucky stuff in an unhappy person’s heart grows and multiplies. It simmers and sloshes around like poisonous green goo in a bubbling cauldron. And one day it boils over and splashes onto those close by, scalding them with its wrath.

Image courtesy of pixabay

Eeks.

It’s not fun being around a mean person, don’t you agree? Stress-inducing, intimidating, and demeaning though? Those are the words that immediately come to mind when I think about mean and unhappy people.

Lately, it’s not me who has to deal with mean people; it’s hubby. But because he’s my better half and I love him so much, all the poison that’s been burning him has been burning me, too. The protective mama bear in me gets so angry when I hear about everything he’s going through. Even writing these words and thinking about the situation makes me mad to the point of tears.

*Deep breath*

Suffice it to say, we’ve both been struggling. Struggling to push through the challenges of the day to day. Struggling to find a way out of this mess. And struggling to know God’s will through all of this.

So far not much about the situation has changed. It’s still as stressful and hopeless as it has been for the past few months. But the funny this is that God is changing us. Both hubby and I came to the same conclusion on our own this past week.

We both asked God to bless this person who’s being mean.

WHAT?! I know, I don’t get it either. Believe me when I say I did not want to be nice. I’d much rather shoot darts at this person than wish good on them. But doing so would mean I’d be just like them, letting the poison in my heart grow and multiply until it boils over and hurts someone else.

What really helped me change my heart and mind was realizing that this person likely doesn’t want to be mean. There’s stuff under the surface that we don’t fully understand that’s making them unhappy. Maybe they’ve never experienced grace. Maybe no one has ever shown them compassion. And maybe they don’t have anyone who cares enough to pray for them.

So, guess who’s praying for them now? *Raises hand sheepishly* Yep. I can’t believe it myself. But just the fact that God can change my heart gives me hope that He can change their heart, too. And maybe changing their heart will change the situation. But if it doesn’t, it’s okay.

I know God is the ultimate Judge. He sees all and knows all. And as gracious as He’s been to me, even with all the meanness in my heart, I know He is taking care of everything—us, them, the whole situation. There’s probably a dozen things we can’t see, happening right now behind the scenes. Some, okay, most of it doesn’t seem fair or good at the moment. But I’m choosing to put my trust in what I do know. That there’s a good, loving, and all-knowing God who’s in charge of it all.

What mean people have you come across in your life? How did you choose to respond?

The title of this post comes from Taylor Swift’s song, “Mean”. It has a strangely chipper melody with some heartfelt lyrics about facing your bullies. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYa1eI1hpDE

A Sneak Peek at Falling for the Younger Cowboy

I just realized it’s been 2 months since I last blogged, but I have a good reason for my absence! 😉 I’ve been hard at work writing a new book, my first cowboy romance. Here my cover reveal for Falling for the Younger Cowboy!

Here’s a sneak peek at chapter one:

Lexi Turner had never seen a more delicious pot of chili … or maybe it was the gorgeous cowboy stirring the pot who had her mouth watering.

“Can I move now, Lex?”

She blinked quickly behind the lens of her camera and lowered the Nikon DSLR from her eye. The camera strap tugged on the back of her neck as she let the equipment fall from her hands. Clearing her throat, she squeaked out, “Yeah, totally. I got the shots I needed. Thanks, James.”

The tall man wearing dark jeans and a fitted gray T-shirt under a large white apron straightened from the pose he’d been in for the past few minutes. His expression relaxed, adding a sparkle to his blue eyes. He immediately pulled the apron over his head of auburn waves and tossed it onto the metal counter behind him. “Finally. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve held that smile. And I’m pretty sure the chili would’ve turned to mush if I stirred it any more. You know I can’t be caught serving baby food to our ranchers.”

Lexi chuckled to see the right corner of James’s lips curve up in his trademark grin. Her friend always seemed to smile with just one side of his mouth, never fully revealing his straight, white teeth. He was the strong, silent type, like a stereotypical cowboy from the Clint Eastwood movies her dad liked to watch. “You know those guys will eat anything you put on their plates. You’re the best cook in Texas.”

A slight blush crept up James’s neck, adding color to his defined jawline. “You’re much too kind, Lexi. And a sweet talker if I’ve ever met one. I doubt if a year on the ranch has made you an expert on southern cooking, but I’ll take the compliment.” He nodded toward the stainless steel pot sitting on the stove. “Do you want a bowl before you get back to work?”

“Sure. But only if you sit with me and have one, too.”

James checked the clock hanging on the wall. “I can manage that. I’ve got an hour before I need to start on the rest of dinner.” He scooped out two bowls of steaming hot chili, grabbed two metal spoons, and led the way out of the kitchen.

Lexi followed him into the mess hall reserved for the employees. An earthy aroma of dirt mixed with the freshness of spring rain coming in through an open window filled her senses. Half a dozen picnic tables topped with metal napkin dispensers took up the majority of the large room. Several tracks of muddy footprints revealed a path where the ranchers’ boots had walked hours earlier during lunch.

Lexi’s own pair of boots clicked along the concrete floor, feeling foreign and comfortable on her feet at the same time. Sometimes she still couldn’t believe she’d traded in her flip-flops and a life by the beach for country living. But that’s what a semi midlife crisis had prompted her to do when Thomas left her for another woman. Taking a seat on one of the wooden benches, she set her camera on the table. She also cleared her head free from any more thoughts of her ex-husband. She inhaled the savory scent of spices rising from the bowl James set before her and sighed. “This is just what I need. Spice therapy.”

From across the table, James held out his spoon to her and waited for her to clink it with her own before digging into his bowl. In between bites, he met her gaze curiously. “Something tells me you’re not just talking about the Monday blues. Did your mom call again?”

Lexi blinked in surprise. “How’d you know?”

He shrugged. “You’ve been distracted ever since you walked into my kitchen.”

Distracted was right. Lexi didn’t know what had gotten into her today. Seeing her good friend through a camera lens had somehow magnified her view of him. She’d thought he was handsome when they first met, but she had never studied the planes and angles of his face so closely before. Or it could be that she’d been too heartbroken to notice.

After relocating from the Big Island of Hawaii to Sage Valley, she’d spent months grieving the end of her decade-long marriage. It wasn’t until recently that her heart had started to ache less. When the dude ranch owners, the Buchanans, tasked her with the job of taking pictures for their website, she’d rediscovered the joy of photography. And now apparently, she’d also discovered the opposite sex. Lexi winced. She really ought to be acting her age instead of feeling like a hormonal teenager. She was a week from turning forty, for goodness sakes! Midlife crisis or not, she couldn’t be crushing on her much younger friend.

Feeling James’s eyes on her, she swallowed her mouthful of chili and answered quickly. “You guessed right. My mom did call this morning, bright and early at seven—two in the morning her time—just before she turned into bed. She had some big news that couldn’t wait.”

James quirked a brow, his telltale sign urging her to continue speaking.

“Apparently, Thomas got engaged over the weekend.”

“Ouch.”

Lexi ducked her head. The hem of her red flannel shirt skimming the top of her jeans blurred for a second before she blinked away her tears. She sniffled as she looked up. “I couldn’t care less what he does. It’s more the fact that my own flesh and blood still keeps in touch with the guy who broke my heart that gets to me. My mom really loves poking her nose in other people’s business.”

A pained look crossed James’s face as he rubbed his chin. “I’m sorry, Lex. That’s gotta sting. I thought my great-aunt won the award for meddling, but your mom takes the cake.”

She smirked. Sharon Buchanan, or Nanna as everyone called her, had a reputation for playing matchmaker, but at least she had good intentions. Lexi’s typical Asian tiger mom—bless her heart—didn’t have a sensitive bone in her body. Lexi still didn’t know how her fun-loving, Irish father had won her over. “It’s all right. I just keep reminding her that I’ve moved on. I’m happy with my life now. I’ve rediscovered my love of photography, I’ve got the ranch’s store to manage, and”—she gave him a pointed look—“I have amazing friends.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Are you talking about Charlie?” he asked, referring to Lexi’s cousin who had gotten her the job at the ranch.

She licked her spoon before setting it down. “Not just Charlie. I’m talking about you, too, Mr. James Scott. Like I said, your chili is life. Just one bite of it, and the world seems right again.” She glanced down at her empty bowl then pointed a finger at her mouth as she smiled. “See how happy you’ve made me? I hardly remember my conversation with my mom now.”

James chuckled, the throaty sound causing his Adam’s apple to bob. “I’m happy to oblige. I’ve got a whole pot left of this spicy therapy if you want some more.”

Lexi shook her head. “Thanks, but I should get back to the store to relieve Henry.” She had one employee, a part-timer who was in line to get a permanent job as a ranch hand. “I’ll upload these photos and ask Nanna which one she wants to use. If my guess is right, she’ll say all of them. I’m pretty sure you’re her favorite grandnephew,” she added with a wink.

“Naw, I’m just the one she managed to rope into working here.”

“Well, I’m awfully glad she did. If you hadn’t come back to the ranch, we’d never have met. You’ve made this past year so much brighter.”

James gave her a half smile. “You mean tastier?”

“Definitely both.” Feeling grateful, Lexi reached across the table and placed her hand on top of his. A light spark of electricity shot through her fingers the moment they touched. She immediately pulled back and rubbed her palm along her jeans. Had James felt it, too?

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, totally fine,” Lexi replied, lying through her teeth. Her body had never reacted to James this way before. She eyed the camera on the table, wondering if it had cast some sort of spell on her. Before she could dwell any more on the matter, her cell phone vibrated. She pulled it out of her back pocket and swiped it open to reveal a new message.

Lex, are you sitting down?

“It’s Charlie,” she murmured to James as she watched three dots flash across her screen. “She’s probably texting to vent about some crazy request she got from a guest.”

Charlie’s next message popped up. I don’t know how to tell you this, but Thomas is here! With a young blonde thing wearing a huge rock!

The blood drained from Lexi’s face. Her mouth fell open as she stared at the blue text bubble. What were her ex and his new fiancée doing in Sage Valley?

“Lexi? What’s wrong?”

She bit her bottom lip as she met James’s gaze. “I think I’m going to need another bowl of chili.”

Poor Lexi! Don’t worry though, James (and his chili) are gonna make things all better! 

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE for updates on this book and the rest of the Sage Valley Ranch series!

6 Life Lessons from 2018

Life is funny, isn’t it? For much of my life, I was eager for time to move faster (especially during the hour before the munchkins’ bedtime), but now I’m finding it slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. This year seemed to have flown by in a few blinks of an eye—one minute I was enjoying the warm days of summer; the next thing I knew, it was time to turn on the heater. Even though we’ve had our tree up for a few weeks already, I’m amazed that it’s Christmas again. I wonder if each and every year from now on will pass by just as quickly? And what will be the results of those 365 days, year after year? 

Yup, I’m feeling a bit sentimental and nostalgic and whatever other emotions one feels during mid-life. Maybe even a bit philosophical. But the one thing I wish I felt less of was anxious. Frazzled. Rushed. I long to feel the freedom and spontaneity of my youth. To feel invincible and hopeful. To believe I had all the time in the world to do all the things I wanted to do. To joyfully experience that funny and beautiful thing called life.

After 43 years on this earth, I think it’s safe to say I’ve learned at least 43 lessons about life. Some of them—okay, who am I kidding!—most of them (especially the ones about parenting) have been hard to swallow. Still many are being ingrained into that thick skull of mine. I wish I were less stubborn and more flexible to learning, but the upside is that life likes to present the same lessons to me, over and over again, so I get plenty of practice changing my perspective and attitude. What joy, right? Ha! 😉

Fortunately, writing really helps me process these life lessons, which is the reason why I started this blog in the first place—to rethink everything I thought I knew about being a perfect person, wife, mom, etc. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy making up stories this past year that I’ve put blogging and processing on the back burner. Which is why I thought it’d be good to write down the life lessons I learned in 2018. Here they are in no particular order, except that one that my tired brain is cranking out. 🙂

  1. Everything takes work. Marriage takes work; parenting takes work; my relationship with God takes work; writing and selling books takes work; friendships take work; housework and chores take A LOT of work. I’ve come to see that work mean putting in the effort and time, but most of all, the intention. When you have the desire and motivation to push you, what seems like work becomes less laborious and more a way of being, of living.  
  2. Balance is key. You have to take care of yourself, so you can take care of those around you and do everything that life requires of you. Downtime is essential (here’s a great podcast about why) and a non-negotiable.
  3. Run your own race. The only person you need to compete with is yourself. Get wrapped up in your own progress and growth. 
  4. Give yourself credit. Don’t shortchange yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments, including the everyday ones (especially cooking and laundry!). Doing the same thing day in and day out is a lot harder than people think.
  5. The little things add up. Doing the same things on a daily basis, as mundane as they may be, builds character in the long run. I love how Romans 5:3-4 puts it: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” I know suffering seems like a big word, but I like to think that living in this imperfect, fallen world is an experience in suffering. It’s not always easy to love people, to stay positive, to find joy in work, or to have faith in God. But when we put one foot in front of the other, open our eyes and engage our hearts, we start to have more purpose in doing, being, and believing. Life becomes sweeter and more fulfilling as we persevere and learn and grow.
  6. Soak in all. the. moments. Take time to appreciate the ordinary because these moments will one day be the fodder of nostalgic conversations. Make memories, and make them well.

What life lessons did you learn in 2018? I’d love to hear them and learn from you. Thank you for following me on my recovering perfectionist journey this past year. I so appreciate your support. 🙂 Till next time, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Celebrating Book Kisses and Birthday Wishes

As much of a perfectionist that I am (or try to be), there are often times when I just can’t keep all my plates spinning at once. Which means something’s gotta give … and recently, it’s been this blog. So, I do apologize for not blogging more regularly! I’ve realized I only have so much brain power and emotional reserves to write from, and unfortunately, every ounce of my mental clarity and creativity is being used for writing fiction. It’s been a whirlwind of typing and editing for the past month as I’ve been working hard to crank out some “to-market” stories.

What exactly are “to-market” stories? Well, there are books that authors write for the love of it, because the characters in our heads won’t let us live in peace until they’re down on paper. And then there are the books we need to write to make an income that helps supplement our “for love” books.

So, it was with a cautious, yet optimistic outlook that I decided to write a clean/sweet billionaire series (which are selling like hot cakes these days!). Here’s a sneak peek at my three novelettes releasing this month …

Before I wrote that series, I wrote a sweet small-town Christmas story. Holding Onto Love in Romance, which is the sequel to Chasing Romance, releases this week. I’m really happy I wrote this book, even though I likely got some new gray hair trying to write the ending!

Before I wrote that book though, I revamped the very first series that I ever wrote. The Taking Chances on Love series has brand new covers and the stories have also been edited. It had been my desire for a very long time to polish up these three novellas to reflect my growth as an author since I wrote them 3-4 years ago. I finally got around to doing it, and I’m so glad I did.

And now I’m working on book 3 in The Spark Brothers series, which is Colin and Candy’s story.

As you can imagine, there have been a lot of book kisses to celebrate lately, which is pretty normal and fun for a romance author. 🙂 But I’m also taking time out to celebrate this weekend because both hubby and I turn a year older. For the record, he’s 2 years and 3 days older than me. 😉

I’m looking forward to celebrating because the older I get, the more I realize what a privilege and blessing it is to have another birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like aging and all the aches and pains that go along with it. However, I do appreciate being able to age. The (sad) truth is that not everyone gets to see 43, so I’m not taking this number for granted. Another (sad) truth is that I’ll never be as young as I am right now, so I’m going to hold on tightly to what I have and be grateful. 🙂 My birthday wish this year is to live well, laugh often, and love much.

What was/is your birthday wish this year?

Calling All Coloring Enthusiasts!

I have a treat for you today! I’m happy to showcase a cool new product by an indie author friend of mine, Annie Douglass Lima. I’ve featured her books on my blog before (you can read the posts here and here). Today’s post is all about her coloring calendar Hide It In Your Heart in 2019. 

 

This 2019 calendar features a Bible verse for each week in creative fonts that can be colored in. A wide variety of holidays are listed, both traditional and unusual. (Do you know when Appreciate a Dragon Day is? How about Lost Sock Memorial Day?) You’ll have plenty of room to record your activities and appointments in the section for each day and week. After every month, you’ll find word puzzles featuring key words from that month’s scriptures and holidays.
 
Prepare for a year full of coloring and fun that will help you hide God’s Word in your heart in 2019 without even trying!

Now take a look at some sample pages! (In the actual calendar, each page is 8 1/2″ x 11″.) 
Clicking on a picture will open up a PDF of the left-hand page (just the part with the Bible verse, not the calendar week) that you can print and color.
Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

 

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

 

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

 

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

 

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.
Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

Click here to order a copy of Hide it In Your Heart in 2019 for yourself or a friend now!

 

Confessions of a Non-Stereotypical Asian

So here’s a joke you may or may not have heard of … A pediatrician, an obstetrician, and a scientist walk into an Asian restaurant …

To meet a romance author (me!).

Actually, to be honest, they were already seated and I was the one walking in (because hello, Asian time!). 😉

As soon as I sat down that evening, Sesame Street’s song, “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” began playing in my mind. I glanced at the faces of my friends, all of whom I’ve known since junior high, and immediately started thinking … They have real full-time jobs. They went to school for years and years to earn their Ph.D.’s in order to have these well-established careers. They actually have a title that you can check off on forms that’s more fancy than Mr. or Mrs.

And there was lil ‘ol me, a stay at home mom, with my lil ‘ol Masters degree working in a profession totally unrelated to said degree, who just wants to make enough money to support my boba tea addiction.

Yup. You can tell who’s the non-stereotypical Asian here. 😉

I wasn’t comparing myself with my friends because they think less of me—they are all very down-to-earth gals. I was comparing myself to them because I’ve been conditioned to believe all my life that Asians are supposed to be high-achieving, hard-working smarty pants in school who later on become high-achieving, hard-working adults in the working world.

But I’ve never been “one of those Asians”. Sure, I’m high-achieving and hard-working, but I’ve always been below the Asian standard for nerdiness. I only took one AP/Honors class in high school because anyone and everyone could get in (and I only passed, thanks to the help of some brilliant friends). I got accepted into UC Berkeley, but only for the extension program because I didn’t have the transcript or the SAT scores I needed to officially get in. I have never even taken a Calculus class (I dropped out the first week when I saw the syllabus!).

How’s that for being non-conforming? 😉

Instead, I ventured into the counseling field for a couple of years, even though many Asians shy away from anything having to do with mental health, and am now an author who often times feels like the “token Asian” among my author friends.

It’s taken me a few good years to feel more like a “real” author, someone who actually knows what she’s doing and has a job that is more than a hobby. And because I’m still a true Asian at my core (high-achieving and hard-working!), I want to do well as an author. I want to show people—Asians and non-Asians—that people who look like me and are from a similar background and upbringing can be successful without a Ph.D. behind their name. I’d like to pave the way for and inspire other Asians who don’t excel at math or science to do what they’re good at and what they love. I hope to see more Asians take a chance on being creative and to know it’s okay to not be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Asians can hold a variety of other professions as writers, directors, actors, artists, and dancers—and much more!

It always makes my heart happy to see people being creative, but it makes my Asian heart happy to see other Asians breaking out of the mold to be creative. Which is why I HAD to go support the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, on opening day. I even dragged an Asian friend to go with me. 😉 We are neither crazy nor rich, but we are Asians who express ourselves creatively, and we both truly enjoyed the film. I for one was blown away by the beauty of it all—from the soundtrack (which features Chinese covers of English songs) and the amazing set designs to the gorgeous costumes and jewelry. I also felt a bit nostalgic as I recognized some of the Chinese songs from the movie as ones my parents used to listen to when I was a kid.

The movie truly made my heart–both the creative part and the Asian part—happy, thankful, and proud. Happy because I love a good rom-com and the movie was well-done with just enough conflict, angst, drama, and laughs. Thankful because the older I get, the more I appreciate being Asian and all the craziness that comes with the culture. And proud because even though it’s hard to feel validated—by your family, other people, but most of all, yourself—as someone who is Asian and creative, this movie is living proof that it’s possible.

So, this is definitely a plug from me to go see the movie! If you’re Asian, and even if you’re not, Crazy Rich Asians is good entertainment. You won’t regret it!

In the meantime, enjoy this song from the soundtrack, Katherine Ho’s (no relation, haha) Chinese cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”.

How does your cultural background influence your creativity?