The What-Ifs and Maybe-Nots and Here-I-Am-Now of My Grand Adventure

If you were to tell me at the beginning of this year that May would find me moving to Kentucky for the summer to work at the Creation Museum, I’m not sure how I would have responded.

See, that was a dream of mine for years, but there seemed to be way too many obstacles in the way. Every time I thought about it, I would daydream a bit, pray about it, but ultimately remind myself that it probably wouldn’t happen any time soon.

And that was the case for a couple of years.

Until it wasn’t. At the beginning of this year all the not nows and that won’t work and maybe laters slid into oblivion. It was as if doors were being flung open and other doors were creaking shut and then all at once I was looking down a corridor that was wide open and welcoming me to a grand adventure.

IMG_0615

It was thrilling and exhausting and comfort-zone busting all at the same time. There were multiple times when I thought it wasn’t going to work – like when I applied for the job and didn’t hear back for a couple of weeks, only to discover that they’d replied right away somehow I’d never received the email. There were times when I was so overwhelmed by everything that I had going on that I just laid in bed with my eyes closed. There were times when I pondered all I was giving up and felt a rush of sadness.

Yet, there was never a time when I questioned if it was something I wanted or was supposed to do. Because it took years of praying and working to get me to this place and all the questions and wonderings and weighing the balances happened a long time ago.

And now here I am.

I was supposed to move down Saturday morning, leaving the house at 5:00. Only, Friday night I was awake with the stomach flu and for various reasons, we decided moving with the stomach flu wasn’t the best decision. I spent Saturday resting, and blocking out the thought of maybe it wasn’t going to work to move after all. (Ludicrous, right? I mean, the camper I was going to live in was already in Kentucky, my job was starting in four days, and I was still having to shush worry.)

Then Sunday morning dawned and I left the house a little after 5:00 (to beat the traffic) and headed off on my new adventure.

Moving {Grand New Adventure, Here I Come}

Y’all.

I’ve had a dream for a long time.

That dream consists of working at the Creation Museum.

I’ve also had another dream – one that might possibly be considered childish and silly, but I’ve dreamt it for a long time nonetheless.

That dream consists of living in a camper. (I know, reaching for the stars there, buddy.)

This summer, Lord willing, both dreams are going to come true.

The story to how this happened is long and rather amazing to me, but probably pretty boring to the general population. It includes a lot of prayer, a lot of surprises, jumping clear outside my comfort zone, and tons of behind the scenes work. It’s been characterized by a large amount of craziness, unexpected reactions, and me kinda freaking out many, many times.

img_4459

See, I’m a homebody. I like to be at home. I like the comfortable and normal and traditions that continue year after year without much variation. I’m a happy, content, loyal type of human.

And then, suddenly I wasn’t anymore. And it surprised me and was somewhat horrifying and totally confusing. Until I realized that it wasn’t that I had changed, instead it was God was showing me it was time for something new.

img_4409

My first reaction was that it would never work. But then some wise people asked me why not? So I talked to some other people about it, and they cited the same reasons why it wouldn’t work as I had first told myself, so I, in turn, asked them why not? And guess what, they agreed with me, Why Not? And thus started a bunch of exceedingly out-of-the-comfort-zone situations for little ol’ me.

And those situations ended with me telling my current boss I was going to be leaving (at least for the summer, who knows after that?), and signing on for a new job. It’s been exciting and overwhelming and thrilling and exhausting all at once.

So, Lord willing one month from today I’ll be heading to Mexico for vacation with my family, then the same day that we get home, I’ll be packing my car up and moving to Kentucky.

That’s a big reason why writing has been on hold for the last month. First, there were job interviews and trying to work out all the logistics. Then came the yeses, so my time has been rather busy with cleaning the camper I’m going to be taking, making lists of things to do, shopping for the camper. (Dishes, curtains, pots, and pans. You name it, we got it.)

There’s also the little matter of finding people to take over what I’ve been doing at home. At work, we have a new girl (and another one coming aboard soon), and it’s fun to get to work with the newbies, reminding myself that I’ll be the new girl soon. And at church, we’ve been working at finding new people to step in with teaching children’s church. I’ve had a delightful time hanging out with those kids for the last fifteen months, and so I’m trying to help the new teachers ease in as seamlessly as possible. Plus, at both my jobs I currently have we’ve had co-workers that I’m close to also leave, so all the goodbyes and going-aways have been tough, but exciting as I know they’re launching into their new dreams.

So that’s it for today, folks.

Except for one more thing: Y’all should totally come visit me at the Creation Museum this summer! 😉

8 Steps to the Perfect Caving Adventure

When you’re going caving, the first thing to do is find proper clothing to wear. In my case, that involved borrowing a pair of overalls from my brother-in-law, pairing them with knee-pads, and stuffing leather gloves into my pocket. Add a snug-fitting helmet, a headlight that works well, and old shoes and you’re all set. (Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of old shoes, which y’all will hear about later.)

IMG_9073

Next, you find a group of fellow adventurous people, meet up with a brave guide, slide through a box to make sure you’ll fit through the tight places, then line up, number off, and begin your exploration.

IMG_9047

Actually, exploration might be a misnomer, because I’m fairly certain that I never want to squeeze through places 300 feet underground if said places haven’t already been thoroughly explored. I’ll let other people blaze the trail, then follow along quite contentedly, thank you.

IMG_9062

After you set off down the path you need to remember two things:
1) Right is always right – or at least that’s the case in the particular cave we were visiting. If we were ever separated from the group we just needed to keep going to the right and we’d be fine.
2) Don’t get separated from the group. Just, don’t.

IMG_9057

And, well, one more thing to remember: Don’t think about where you are or what you’re doing. Seriously. There’s nothing like belly-crawling, side-scooting, and clawing your way through a space barely big enough to fit your body through to induce panic. Especially when you consider that you’re hundreds of feet underground with solid rock on all sides. So, you just don’t think about it. Instead, you go into performance mode and get it done. (And have slightly blurry pictures to show for it since the adrenaline causes shaking.)

IMG_9059

Also, it helps if you choose a guide who’s bigger than you so that when your clothes get stuck on the jagged rocks while you’re belly-crawling you can calmly (haha) remind yourself that someone bigger than you just got through and all you need to do is back up a few inches and free yourself. See? No biggie.

IMG_9080

Also, try and remember that caving in the Spring is different than in the summer, and you’ll probably be going through water and a lot of mud. Hence the reminder to bring old shoes – or be prepared to buy new ones. Especially if you work in the food industry where shoes are a must and mud is looked at askance.

IMG_9098

And of course, conclude your spelunking adventure with a steep muddy hill to slide down, and a sleeping bag to burrow your muddy-self into. Because, sleeping in a dark cave – right after facing all your fears and crawling deep underground – is a very logical thing to do.

IMG_9101

And that’s it for today, folks!

Currently
Setting: Home!
Listening to: The beauty of nothing 
Question of the Day: Have you ever slept in a cave? 

August 2017 Month Review

What I focused on in August

  1. Where Dandelions Grow (This. Mostly This.)
  2. A week at the Creation Museum
  3. Getting back into the goal mindset

FullSizeRender-9

Birthday Challenge Update

  1. Buy 25 Books – 5
  2. Request 25 Books for Review – 3
  3. Vlog 25 Times – 4
  4. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – Several times 😉
  5. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 3
  6. Color 25 pictures – 2
  7. Go to bed by 10:30 sixty times (not in a row) – 12 (?)
  8. Blog by 9:30 a hundred times – 15 (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 2
  10. Drink coffee or tea while reading or journaling 25 times – 8 times (?)
    FullSizeRender-10

Reading Update

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 5
Book Reviews: 16
Audio Books: 1

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 9.25.09 AM.png

Traveling

Nights Gone: 8
New States or Countries: None

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.35.35 AM

Goals

If the Lord wills and I live, in August of 2017 I will…

Health:
1. Be in bed by 10:30 Ten Nights – YES
2. Get up by 6:30 Ten Mornings – YES
3. Eat Paleo (my version) Twenty Days – YES 
4. Go on at least Five walks a week – YES 
5. Do the PEMF Mat Twice a week – YES 
Spiritual/Mental:
1. Read two “spiritual” books – YES 
2. Read three nonfiction books altogether – YES 
3. Go to Wednesday night church when home – I missed one week when sick
4. Go to Church & Sunday School when home – I missed one week when sick
5. Watch Golden Nuggets – YES 
Writing Work etc…:
1. Plot DD – Partly
2. Write at least 30,000 words in the first draft of DD – No
3. Blog by 9:30 Twelve times – YES
4. Research blogging/vlogging for Ten Hours – No
5. Post a Vlog every Thursday – I missed one week when sick
6. Work on Writing/Vlogging/Research work for 100 hours (bonus – make it 120 hours!) – YES (or at least I’m fairly sure I did, I ended up not keeping track)
I ended up focusing most of my writing time on Where Dandelions Grow instead of DD – a conscious decision on my part that ended up being a really good idea. Goals are supposed to get you where you need to go – not lock you into working on a certain project even when it’s no longer the most profitable thing for you to be doing.
Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.35.22 AM

What I’ve Been Learning

August was really a fantastic month. Despite being sick for a week I still feel like it was one of the most productive months I’ve had in a while. One thing that really stood out to me is how many solid nonfiction reads I had this month. There will be book reviews to come for most of them, so stay tuned.

I read books about prayer, loving, serving, and viewing God the correct way, the Biblical view of the refugee crisis, how to better take care of children and serve in the church, and how to interact, love, and be friends with LGBT people the way God wants us to. That last book was probably the most eye-opening for me and I was really pleased with the strong stand the author took on loving but making sure it’s done in a Biblical way.

In August I also learned a lot about networking, staying focused, making a plan and moving forward, keeping up-to-date on work-related emails, and all that’s involved with a (Lord willing) very successful book release. I had a delightful time reading, learning, experimenting, praying, and watching the results pour in.

Far too often I’m all jittery about getting more, more, more done and too focused on accomplishing. This month I felt like I (thankfully!) hit a good balance for getting a lot done, but not freaking out when I couldn’t do all I wanted to/felt like I needed to do. This is something I’ve worked with on a pretty much daily basis for years, so that was really exciting for me. It includes a lot of letting go and remembering that God’s plans for me are far better than my own.

Twitter. For the most part, I haven’t done much on Twitter, but there are a couple of people’s tweets that amuse me greatly and I sometimes click on their profiles when I need a few minutes to chill and laugh. I decided I wanted to be one of those people, so I worked on it during the last month and had a ton of fun. I mostly talk about books, writing, and randomly throw in antidotes regarding my bunny, Whimsy. Learning about Twitter has been fun. My followers also grew a lot, so that was rewarding.

Where Dandelions Grow v1.21

Other 

In August I was: Sick for a week. At the Creation Museum for a week. Had some pretty epic dreams come true. I did better than previous months with getting to bed at a reasonable time and eating healthfully.

Really, it’s less than a week after the month ended and August is already kinda a blur to me, with the main focus being on Where Dandelions Grow. I wrote hundreds of emails. Contacted dozens of bloggers personally, and even more through networking. I tried to write more quality posts on Noveltea and was thrilled to watch more people subscribe/follow my blog. (In August Noveltea had 35 new followers, compared to July where only 6 new people came on board.) One of my totally favorite things to do this month was watch new reviews and ratings pop up on Goodreads for Where Dandelions Grow Only twenty days (!) until the release of this book, which is crazy exciting. (Y’all can pre-order it on Amazon for only $0.99 which is a totally amazing price, people.)

My week at the Creation Museum was really amazing – complete with getting to sign some of my books and meet some of my blogging friends. Pretty cool, right? That type of activity always makes me writerly heart happy. I also was blessed to meet up with one of my sweet friends and her children, and we walked around the Museum grounds for a few hours talking and hanging out. Another fun part of the week there was making goofy videos for another friend, including a “fake” interview with my adopted dad regarding how he builds life size models of dinosaurs. Nothing like that type of thing to create good memories.

Apparently August was also a very sparse month when it comes to pictures, which I’ll endeavor to remedy in September.

And of course, August ended in September, which is just about the best month ever, so YAY!

What were some of the highlights of your August?

 

Signing Books, Sending Emails, and Meeting Blog Friends #AuthorLife

This has been a fantastic week at the Creation Museum, and I’m kinda sad that Friday has arrived so quickly.

Throughout this week I’ve had so much fun following my adopted parents around and helping when possible (yay!). I’ve spent hours back in the offices sending Where Dandelions Grow out to dozens of new reviewers, answering lots of emails, working on editing Echoes, and other writerly tasks. (Today I sent out the information regarding the Cover Reveal that takes place next week! *cue happiness*)

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.35.06 AM

I’ve also had a delightful time meeting new people each day after Dad’s concerts and workshops. Yesterday I talked to a family with six young boys who said they love my book and keep the audio version in their car. That was incredibly, fantastically encouraging! That kind of feedback is what helps keep me going even when writing gets tough, and reminds me of how blessed I am to get to write.

It was also fun getting to sign some of my Cool Critters of the Ice Age books. Nothing like signing a book to make me feel like an actual author. 😉 When not signing books (which, in reality was most of the time), I had a good time getting to answer people’s questions about what songs are on what CDs, and which DVD I would recommend, and all that exciting stuff.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.35.35 AM

One extra-cool thing that happened the other day was I got to meet some people in real life that I’d only known through blogging/emailing. A couple of years ago a guy introduced himself to me at a conference, saying he’d read my blog before after seeing a link shared by a mutual friend. I didn’t stay in contact with him, but two of his sisters ended up becoming beta readers for various books of mine. I’ve had fun emailing them on and off, so it was so neat and unexpected to suddenly meet them in real life. (YAY for blogging friends!)

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.35.22 AM

If you’d like to be a part of the Cover Reveal team, email me at: aidylewoh@gmail.com (Any type of social media works for this – you don’t have to have a blog.) Thank you to everyone who has already signed up – y’all are amazing!

Question of the day: Have you ever met a blogger in real life? If you could meet any blogger in real life, who would you want to meet?

Have a totally delightful weekend, y’all!

Writerly Happiness: When Book Reviews Make You Want to Cry

This morning I’m doing that whole “Twenty-first-century-author” type thing. I’m in the backseat of a car, typing away on my laptop while using my phone as a hotspot, and the phone is plugged into an external battery so I don’t have to rush to conserve the juice. Pretty crazy, right?

Today is a happy authorly day for me. Not only did four (!!!) more of you sign up to read Where Dandelions Grow since Saturday night *cue happy dance* but two people have posted reviews on Goodreads. And yes, I will happily admit to getting tears in my eyes when reading the reviews and thinking of how incredibly blessed I am to not only get to be an author but to have you AMAZING people as part of my community.

If you want to check out the reviews that are live, you can look at the Goodreads page for Where Dandelions Grow. I’m also blown away by how many of you have marked the book “To-Read” – Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you haven’t done that, I’d be thrilled if you’d take a moment to do so, and if you want to recommend it to your friends on Goodreads, too? Well, that would be totally amazing as well! 😉

 

IMG_7935

Traveling office – and yes, that is a pile of clothes next to me cause I’m going to the Creation Museum for the week. Y’all should come visit! 😉 

I finally received the final front cover of the book from my designer, so that means I get to send that out in an email to everyone who has signed up to read WDG in exchange for review. Cause you know, they get the first sneak peeks. 🙂 (You want to get into the fun? It’s still not too late to sign up! Tomorrow is the Five-Weeks-Until-Release-Day! *cue yet another happy dance*)

 

This morning I’m also working on sending out info to everyone who has signed up to be part of the Cover Reveal team because the Cover Reveal is only eight days away! (If you’d like to take part in that, but don’t have time to read and review the book, you can email me at aidylewoh@gmail.com – We’re going to have lots of fun with Giveaways and all that.)

Among other writerly things that I’ve done recently, on Friday and Saturday I sent 38 emails, wrote 11 book reviews, scheduled two (book review) blog posts, and hung out on quite a few blogs. That’s in addition to having an already-busy weekend (which included packing for this week, having a bunch of company, and hanging out at my sister’s house).

And speaking of busy, we’re only about a half an hour away from the Creation Museum so I’d better sign off here so I can send out those emails. Have a delightful Monday, y’all! Thank you SO MUCH for being part of my journey as an author. Your support and community mean an incredible amount to me! 🙂

That Day I First Became A Published Author

Happy Monday, Y’all! Am I the only one who has like ten thousand things to do this week? I’m excited about seeing what I can accomplish, but also maybe a wee bit overwhelmed when I stop and think about all there is to do.

I’ve been working on getting my book Where Dandelions Grow ready to be released, which has been so rewarding. (And Hey! It’s not too late to sign up to be part of the release team! If you want to read the book for FREE in exchange for a review, you can sign up here.) With the release of a new book, I thought it would be fun to share with y’all part of the story regarding my first book release.

dee3e-img_6676

Cue the year 2013 and I was in the beautiful state of Hawaii with my family. Even though I was throughly enjoying my time there, I was also frantically trying to get everything in place with my book, Cave Secrets of the PterodactylI’d co-authored the book with my adopted parents, and there was a really good chance that it would be published, and the next couple of weeks were the determining factor.

I spent a lot of time on the phone and computer and texting working out small details (like who I wanted to dedicate the book to), without actually knowing if it would be published or not.

Then I awoke early one morning to see I’d received a text from my adopted parents telling me it was a go. I kinda totally flipped out, wondering if I was reading the text correctly. (With the time difference, I’d gotten into the habit of answering texts and then falling back to sleep.) Jumping out of bed I quickly threw some clothes on in the dark – not even knowing if they matched – then slipped out of the hotel room, through the lobby, and onto the path that led down to the beach.

74c22-img_6677

I called my adopted parents, nearly shaking with excitement (they were the ones dealing with the publishers, so I got all my info from them). When they answered I probably had to ask about ten times before I finally let it sink in that my book was indeed going to be published.

Sitting out on the beach that morning, I talked to them, begging for all the details, and watched as the surf rolled in and out. (See the top picture.) When my adopted parents finally had to get off the phone to go to work, I snapped a selfie that clearly shows that I’d dragged my young-little-braces-self out of a deep sleep to hurry down to the beach. 😉 Really though, although I’m not generally a fan of selfies, this one will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s when and where I learned that my published-author-dream was coming true. (And, this also ended up being the first picture of myself I ever showed on Noveltea, because until that time I hadn’t posted any pictures of myself online.)

486ba-photo-43

After we got home a few days later I signed the contact for the book, and the dream was underway.

My author-ish life didn’t explode after that like I thought it would, but it was a good beginning. I got to attend some conferences/hang out at the Creation Museum bookstore and do book signings. I’ve gone places and randomly seen the book in bookstores. I’ve met fans of the book, which still feels incredible.

And now I’m about to release my fourth book. (Two self-published, two traditionally published.) I’m still a bit in awe over the fact that I get to be a writer. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always what I feel like doing at the moment. It’s hard. And discouraging at times. And quite crazy.

But it’s worthwhile. It’s a dream come true. And I’m so thankful that this is my dream – that this is what I get to do.