By Jaime Peligro Photo courtesy Kaia Roman
She had it all, “living the dream” in picturesque Santa Cruz, California with her husband and two daughters, a prospering self-employed businesswoman catering to the Silicon Valley crowd. But when her epigenetics business imploded (the study of DNA changes caused by external factors), Kaia Roman faced not just the challenge of the loss of income, but the shock and depression that accompanied it.
They say that what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger and Roman rebounded in a big way. Not the smallest result of that resurgence has been her successful memoir, “The Joy Plan,” which was published by Sourcebooks last year and called “an energetic and informative plan for transforming your life” by Publishers Weekly.
Recently, she was approached by Harper Collins Español to translate the book and have it published in Spanish, a clear indication of the book’s strength and impact. Roman explained how she came up with the theme of “The Joy Plan,” which is a combination of scientific data (chemical reactions in the brain, for example), and her own story, written in a natural voice. “I mixed the data with easy-to follow stories and practical applications,” she said.
“I wanted ‘The Joy Plan’ to offer something for every reader – from the science geeks like me who want to know how and why everything works to those wanting an easybreezy beach read. My personal story is the entertaining backdrop to the scientific part, to keep it from being too clinical or dry.”
Roman finished writing the book back in Santa Cruz, then her family moved to Tamarindo, staying for nearly one year.
“My husband, Dan, had been laid off from his job and I was freelancing so we had the opportunity to come here. And we fell in love with it! We returned to California when Dan was offered a job there,” she continued, “but as soon as he was able to work remotely, we moved back to Tamarindo and feel so grateful to be able to call this beautiful community our home.”
Which brings us to her book published in Spanish.
“El Plan de la Alegría” came out worldwide in early October reaching an entirely new audience with its themes of practicing to change old habits with repetition.
“Thoughts are habits, just like words or actions,” said Roman. “They are based on neural pathways we have trained our brains to call on repeatedly. It’s not easy to change our negative habits, but practice makes that possible. The first step is recognizing that negative voice in our head, because often it is so pervasive that we don’t even notice it.” With the success of the book and its fluid writing, will Roman be writing other books? “Honestly,” she reflected,
“I have started writing two novels, two non-fiction books and have completed a children’s book since ‘The Joy Plan’ was published. But I have yet to take any steps toward publishing these new ones. I’m waiting for the muse to strike again, I guess.
‘The Joy Plan’ flowed out of me like a river—I wrote the bulk of it in one month. Nothing else has captivated me like that so far.” But Roman has definitely stayed busy, working as a freelance writer and giving guest lectures on neurosciencebased mindfulness to elementary and middle-school students at the new Journey Tamarindo School.
She is also planning an interactive discussion and book signing for “The Joy Plan” at Bookstore of the Waves in Tamarindo on Thursday, November 15 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., with time allotted to teach mindfulness exercises for kids.