Celebrating Baby

The past few months have been a whirlwind for me, but despite it, a good amount of time was carved out to celebrate the arrival of baby. First, on the agenda was a babymoon! Michael and I never really went on a honeymoon, so I really wanted to go on some kind of trip before the baby came. It didn't have to be a big trip, just something for the two of us to getaway since most of our trips this year was dedicated to visiting family. We ended up taking a weekend getaway to charming little Victoria, BC in July and I am so glad we did. It was nice to simply bask in the glow of our marriage and the new family we were creating. It was a fun weekend of garden, butterflies, food, museums, and walking about the water.

August called for our last trip to California to visit family. Now that I was getting into the third trimester, I no longer felt comfortable flying anymore, nor did I want to fly after the baby when he was a newborn. So friends and family came together to throw us a memorable baby shower, making the trip back home that much sweeter.

September called for even more celebration, but this time with the Washington friends and family! This baby is so loved by everyone where ever we go. I can’t wait until he’s old enough for me to show him just how excited everyone was for him to arrive.

Before I knew it, it was October, and I found myself extremely anxious. Anxious to be done with pregnancy, and even more anxious to meet my son!

Hawaii 2018, Pass 2, & other updates

Hello 2018! Time for my first post!

I started off the year with a trip to Hawaii with the hubs and the in-laws (who graciously hosted). During vacations I usually want to do a lot of stuff, but my 4th quarter at work was crazy busy and I hadn't been feeling well (update on that below), so I made it my mission to decompress and relax. Besides a few posts on Instagram, I basically unplugged which was nice! I ate well, drank well, read well, and managed to get some writing done. 

While in Hawaii Michael and I got to celebrate our first year of marriage! It was nice for our first anniversary to go back to the place where we said our vows and got hitched.  It brought all the warm and fuzzies back, except this time was so much better because I didn't have a wedding to execute! So yeah, being married is great. Especially to this guy.

On the beach, I managed to read three books in a week. My favorite of the three was The Memory Book by Lara Avery. Where has this book been all my life? Why did no one recommend it to me? This is a laugh, cry, then sob kind of book with such lively characters. Easily one of my new favorite books that I will reread in the years to come. Pick it up. I dare you. Then once you're in the sobbing phase, come cry on my shoulder, and I'll feed you chocolates to lessen the gut-wrenching blow that is this beautiful work of art.

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Anyway, this book, along with the others I read on vacation really got me thinking of MS7 and what type of reaction I wanted to invoke in my reader. After finishing pass 1, I decided I needed another major overhaul during Pass 2. More specifically: revising the voice, tone, and fleshing out the characters. My dear reader, I want you to love, laugh, and cry. That is the goal. :P It's a big change, but I think it'll make the MS better (that is, if it doesn't kill me first). Like seriously, this manuscript is so hard to write, but feels worth while, and one of my goals this year was to write the best book possible. There's still eleven months to go to make it SHINE.

Even though I've been agent-less for awhile, I'm starting to feel really good about my writing again. Last year I'd wrestle with so many doubts wondering if I had it in me. The thing about your low years? It really shows you what you want, and for me it reaffirmed my belief about who I am and what I'm meant to do. This year, I've been exploding with book ideas and it's only January! For the last two years, I kind of had a drought so it's kind of a relief to get drenched with all these ideas.

So yeah, the start of 2018 has been all about positive vibes! Something I've been doing is listening to upbeat music in the morning (Any FLOR fans out there?). If I'm am work, I'll jam out in my cubicle. If I'm at home, I put on my headphones and dance in my office. This new habit just makes me feel happier, and it makes me think about my story and what I'm trying to do, and how to bring more meaning into my story world.

To fully understand how much of an improvement I've made on my outlook, I should confess that the last three months I've been dealing with terrible pain from ovarian cysts due to hormonal imbalances. I haven't felt like myself at all, and there were days when I would just lay about because being away from the heating pad hurt so much. My writing took a hit, and I was such bad company I basically kept to myself. The good news is, I'm dealing with it and getting my hormones under control with natural supplements and cleaning up my lifestyle. It'll take a while to find my balance, but I'll get there.

Now, that I'm back home I'm really excited to dive back into my goals, my writing, life, and making the most of this year!

 

A White Christmas, The End of 2017, & Looking Ahead to 2018

Alright, my last blog post of 2017! It's hard to believe 2017 has come and gone. I got married, I made some big decisions, made some mistakes, and learned a lot about myself. Here's hoping 2018 is better. ;)

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I'm skipping the WWPR post this week because I haven't made much progress during Pass 2 on my MS. I could blame it on the holiday craziness, or the fact that I've been feeling unwell, but in plain black and white, I didn't do much, so I'll accept the consequences of carving out some revision time in Hawaii. Then again, writing time in a relaxing place doesn't sound too bad, right?

I hope everyone reading had a wonderful Christmas! If you follow my instagram, you'll have seen the huge surprise we received from Mother Nature on Christmas Eve: snow! It was my first ever white Christmas. It was beautiful and magical! I loved it! Because of it, Christmas Day was at our place. It was Michael and I's first time hosting Christmas, so that plus the snow will always make it a memorable one.

Here's a quick highlight of my 2017 in no particular order:

1. Getting married

2. Michael's 30th surprise party

3. Santa Barbara wine trip

4. My birthday in the desert & at home

5. Thanksgiving in California

6. Seeing Banners live!

7. Mother's day visit

8. Meeting K&K / TIU Tour

9. visit from Mic & Joan

10. LA Trip

And because, who doesn't love New Years Resolutions:

Writing Goals

1. Finish my YA Contemporary - the current project I'm working on

2. Draft my YA Fantasy - the one I made an outline of last month

Health & Fitness

1. Level up on yoga - i.e. no more intro classes. I'd like to do more advanced classes and get more comfortable with inversions.

2. Stick through a workout plan - I like to dabble in all kinds of workouts and do them based on how I'm feeling, but it' be nice to finish one completely from start to finish. I've decided to do BBG2 from start to finish when I get back from Hawaii.

3. Learn more new recipes - everything I've been making is getting kind of old. Time to revamp my culinary skills.

4. Practice gratitude more often to keep a positive mindset.

Personal

1. Make more time for people and keep in touch more - I have a tendency to keep to my writing cave and my little bubble.

2. Explore the area - whether it's coffee shops, bars, or new restaurants. I used to be all for trying new things, but I've had the tendency to stick to my favorites (and while there's nothing wrong with that--I do enjoy the novelty of new experiences).

3. Live minimally -  as in don't buy things unless I really need it so I can reduce on clutter. I'm no hoarder, but I do have trouble letting go of paper memories, whether that's journals, photographs, cards, or printed manuscripts. The thing is, they end up in my closet or in trunks, which means I have no space for anything else. So, yeah. I'll try to work on that. 

4. Study up on Wine - I'd like to increase my knowledge base enough to past the level 1 somm test!

 

 

 

 

Meetaversery and the latest. 

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Yesterday Michael and I celebrated our meetaversery (the day we met). September 3rd is one of my favorite days of the year. It reminds me of my trip to Paris (a place I've wanted to travel to since I was a little girl), and also of how Michael and I met. It's crazy how one chance meeting can change the trajectory of your whole life, but sure enough in 2012, it did. So every year on this day, we celebrate by going out to dinner (preferably french themed or inspired place) to celebrate and reminisce. It's a great time for us to give pause and reflect at how far we've come and also to practice gratitude for each other and the life we are building with each other.

This year was the big 5 year and celebrating as newlyweds made it even more special. We decided to go to Stateside in Seattle, a French-Vietnamese restaurant that Michael discovered over the winter. As usual, it was delicious and didn't disappoint. 

The celebration was a great way to start off September, considering August was a rough one for me. I recovered from oral surgery and a ridiculous amount of ailments which really got to me mentally and physically. Unable to workout, eat normally, or even focus since I was feeling unwell led to hours on the couch, binge-watching t.v., moping around, and just being pessimistic AF.

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Idleness, as I quickly learned, is not good for me. I always feel like I should be doing something. I hate wasting time. But there I was wasting a lot of it, waiting to get better to get on with my life, which made me turn inward and analyze myself. What life do I want to get back to? Before surgery, I was all-over the place with planning, entertaining guests, and traveling in July that I haven't really had a normal routine or established my goals in awhile. As the healing time came to an end, I started brainstorming and thinking about how I wanted to end these past four months.

I broke down the areas of my life I found most important to my happiness (health/wellness, relationships with others, personal goals, and professional development) and then brainstormed what I could improve upon. Based on that I made goals and actions to take that would get me to the goal. I know I sound like a self-improvement nut, but for me, if I'm not improving, learning, or growing, then I'm simply existing, not living.

I recommend you try it for yourself. Just brainstorming and writing it all out with paper and pen really grounds me and gives me a sense of purpose when I see things I want to accomplish.

PASSION + ACTION = A PURPOSEFUL LIFE

I came across the above quote and it just resonated with me. Hopefully it resonates with you, too.

So, now that I am free from my idleness, I've been going back to eating delicious food! Exercising! And reading! I'm already starting to feel more optimistic!

P.S. I read Kara Thomas's LITTLE MONSTERS in one sitting and it was so GOOD. Highly recommend if you want something dark and twisty.

The next thing & Iconiq.

In my last post, I talked about wanting to do more and be more after being inspired by K&K. How to go about it was another matter. I had to dig deep, had to question my actions, the path I was on, and really figure out what I wanted out of life.

I know that I want to write books, but I didn't want to stall my career either. The past couple of years, I had been feverishly writing, hoping something would stick, and when nothing did, I had to ask myself, Can I do this again for the next three years if it resulted in the same outcome? No, I couldn't. Not if I had no growth to show for it. Yes, I learned a lot the past three years about writing, but not enough to share my work with the world, and worse yet, I felt like life was passing me by.

So it brought me to these conclusions:

1) I do want to write books. But more so, I would rather write that one great book than a lot of stories that end up in the trunk. It's easy to write books in a short amount of time, but harder to write one of quality. One that reaches out and touches the soul of the reader. So maybe I'm not actively writing a bunch of stories, but that's okay. I'm going to chip away at the one that matters, even if it takes me a while.

2) I don't want to feel like life is passing me by. I used to feel guilty for spending my free time doing non-writing things. I had this mentality that if I wanted it enough, I should eat, sleep, breathe writing. Not the case anymore. I've always kept a list of places to go for a reason. I didn't write up my travel bucket list only to leave it on the wayside. I want to get back to it.

3) If we spend most of our lives working, then I want to do something that has an impact. I'd been toying with the idea of learning how to code. So three weeks in, I've been self-studying with Michael's help. It's been frustrating, overwhelming, and brain-numbing, but also a challenge. So challenge accepted ;)

I don't know where life is going to take me, but coming to these conclusions, I know I have to change in some way to get myself out of the rut I find myself in so that I can move onto the next thing. The next chapter of my life so to speak.

So yeah, I've done a lot of soul searching lately. It's been a lot of moments of being up and down to this point, so Michael surprised me by planning a date for us at Iconiq, an awesome restaurant that fuses Japanese and French cuisine.

It was absolutely amazing and probably one of my top meals of the year.  The ambiance was minimal yet bright, the chef incredibly welcoming as he spoke to the tables, the service impeccable, and the food delightful, delicious, and inspiring.

It was just what I needed, and funny enough, our date landed on exactly six months after our wedding. Michael and I made it half a year into our marriage, and boy, has time flown by. But not anymore. I intend to make the most of my time.

Sonoma Wine Trip: Carneros & Valette

Before I get into my trip, I just want to say, LOVE IS LOVE IS  LOVE IS LOVE IS  LOVE IS LOVE<3. Let us not forget that.

As for my trip, it's been almost a week since I landed in Oakland, California, and drove up to the Sonoma/Carneros area with Michael. Our yearly summer wine trips are my favorite, and I was especially excited to do the Sonoma area! Deep down I have this dream of Michael and I with our little own vineyard and a small home on a hill with a wraparound porch. I'd pen my latest novel and he'd cycle the rolling hills. We'd make delicious local food and great wine. I can dream,right? Not to mention the location would be perfect; about an hour and a half from my family, the coast, and the bay area.

But alas, I should snap out of my day dream and get on with my post! We started at Gloria Ferrer to taste some sparkling wines. I loved it so much, I became a member of their wine club.

For lunch, we went to OSO Sonoma to fuel up before heading for our wine taste/tour at Domaine Carneros.

After, we went to Arrowood for our last taste, but when we got there I was like, whoa! Dream home right here ;)

For dinner, we went to Valette and did the chef's tasting menu. It was AMAZING. A must-go if you're in the area and want a fancy/romantic/date night, or if you just want some delicious food.

By the end of the day, I was totally wiped. We got up at 4 a.m. that day to head out to the airport and did a full day of tasting. You bet I crashed by the time 9 p.m. rolled around.