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Finding Inspiration ~ Author Roberta Gately - DreamsCo

When I ask people about their dreams many times they've been caught up their daily lives and haven't found the time to think about anything more than getting through the day. Many have hidden passions stuffed behind to-do lists and tasks for others. But what is life without dreams or inspiration?The amazing author Roberta Gately shares today where and how she found inspiration in what many would regard as the last place on earth to find beauty or dreams.

Read her post about finding inspiration and then realize that you have the chance to begin writing your story with Roberta at our Dreams Tasting Event January 30, 2015 in Cambridge MA sponsored space by NGIN workspace. Come learn from this amazing woman and begin writing your own inspirational story. Click Attend Meetups on our home page to learn more. Buy Tickets

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INSPIRATION…

 

Inspiration – that elusive gem, that idea that transforms our thoughts and our maybes into the essential themes of our stories. But, from what magical place does that indefinable pearl emerge?   For me, as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker, I find inspiration everywhere. I stand in line at the bank and watch as a woman peers into a glass shelf, and seeing her own reflection, preens with undisguised admiration. I write furiously. I want to capture the set of her eyes, the slight grin as she realizes how much she likes her own image.   Everywhere I look there is inspiration and, eager to record it all, I am never without a pen and paper.

When I first went to Afghanistan, I knew at once that everything there was inspirational, not just the people, but the rugged landscape, the steaming green tea, all of it sustenance for this writer’s soul.   Afghanistan is a place bursting with inspiring people and inspiring stories at every turn, and my first novel, Lipstick in Afghanistan, was written not just to share my images of that land, but to help dispel the ceaseless illusion that the people of Afghanistan are either terrorists or wild eyed peasants. While Afghanistan’s ethnic and border wars have long shaped its violent and stubborn history, it has unfairly colored the world’s view of its citizens as well. But the reality is that the Afghans I know are at once both resilient and graceful, and it was those diverse, dissimilar and ultimately inspiring qualities I hoped to bring to my story.

Until 9/11, Afghanistan was essentially off the world’s radar screen.   People knew little and cared less about a land that seemed so alien and so far away. All of that changed of course after 9/11, and as the world’s attention finally focused on that destitute and long neglected corner of the world, the devastating truth of the Taliban rule began to emerge; torture, murder and unspeakable crimes against these people. It was worse than any of us who knew the country well had imagined.

In the spring of 2002, I volunteered with a French aid group and was posted to a remote region of Afghanistan, and I was struck, not for the first time, by the wretched reality of daily life for Afghan women. While they have quite literally woven and then held together the fabric and traditions of their families and country, they have often been invisible – the last ones fed, the last ones heard, the last ones to really matter. They suffered at every level, and under the Taliban, access to healthcare for women had been severely restricted. As a result, Afghanistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. UNICEF recently reported that an Afghan woman dies of complications related to childbirth or pregnancy-related complications every twenty minutes, a fact that still my makes my heart ache.

And yet, despite it all, these are women who inspire with every breath they take, for instead of living with bubbling hostility, the women of Afghanistan choose to live with a quiet grace and a hardiness of spirit that takes my own breath away. And even with their countless recent miseries, the women of Afghanistan are nothing if not resilient, and that is especially evident in the long-standing myth of the lady rebel.   The lady rebel is revered - a warrior for goodness, they say, and her exploits are legendary, her reputation for courage boundless. To hear the stories of this remarkable warrior is to believe. Even now, I can almost see her as she flies on horseback across the top of a distant mountain range, her plaited hair flying out behind her, a bandolier strung across her chest, a gleam of determination in her eyes as she saves her countrymen from one calamity or another.

That intriguing legend was the seed, the beginning of my idea for Lipstick in Afghanistan, but the lady rebel was only one of many inspirational characters I encountered there.   I often spied a tiny young girl as she trudged along the village pathways and fields. This young girl, who was destined to live a life of drudgery, of endless chores and arranged marriage, never missed an opportunity to pummel whatever local boy crossed her path. For a female who was surely destined for a life of never-ending work, it seemed to me that she was releasing a lifetime of power in the short time she had to be free, really free.   She had a mischievous, engaging spirit that gave me hope for Afghanistan’s future, and gave me yet another seed for my novel.

But there is inspiration here as well. I find it in my patients struggling to get well, or the fretful refugees I know. I find it too in rush hour traffic and lines at the bank. The world is filled with miracles, and I hope that everyone, especially writers, finds their own and shares them with the rest of us.

 

Roberta Gately

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Author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet (Simon & Schuster/gallery)

www.robertagately.com

Walking This Crazy Path - DreamsCo

A little over six years ago I began a journey of checking off items on a long list of dreams. The list was made in a time when I was lost and trying to find solid ground. I didn't know where I was going to live, I was alone, my career was up in the air, I was tired, and I didn't feel like things could get any worse. I looked at that huge list of 101 Dreams and thought, "Yeah right. Who am I to want this much? Who am I to think I can do this?" Five years later I'd accomplished 91 Dreams and found a life I couldn't have imagined - one filled with friends, a beautiful home, two new careers, travel, dancing, and parties,and most of all, a new confidence in who I was and what I could accomplish.

It was a crazy path to get there and it wasn't always rosy. At times it was downright terrifying with lots of bumps. I learned to trust in a higher power, to speak from the heart without fear of what people would think of me, and to not settle for anything less than magnificence.

In June of 2013, with THE LAKE HOUSE published and being chosen as the best summer read in major cities, a new book concept coming to fruition, and a very comfortable life with my bridal business going well, I felt that I had arrived where I wanted to be.

But life doesn't sit still.

At book clubs, women talked about my list of dreams. I began to hear conversations about how it was better to be the giver than the receiver in life and many couldn't imagine doing what I'd done. I started to see how women put their dreams last to care for everyone else first. I recognized who I'd been before pursuing my list in so many of these women, and I have to say I was tired of the conversation. So I thought I'd change it.

I put together a contest to bribe women to achieve their dreams. I got answers that they wanted to lose weight, get a six-pack, and many couldn't name their dreams. If they could they found they couldn't find space to pursue them.

The conversations bothered me. Meanwhile, my agent was stating that the book I was thinking about wasn't fully formed and I didn't know where to take it. Along with that my bridal business began to have trouble. Though life was still good, it seemed that no matter how hard I worked, I was spinning my wheels.

Then I had this idea.

What if I could create the space for people to pursue their dreams? A day long event where attendees could try out different items on their list and then go online and connect with the women they met at the event. We could start to change the conversation.

I knew it wouldn't be easy, but as I opened doors and looked into doing these events I knew I needed help. I found what was to be a great business partner, but in order to make it all happen I had to sell the security of my home for the seed money and move back to my hometown of Boston. As soon as I'd done this, and right before my move, I had to fire that partner. But I found new partners and put together a team only to land in Boston and have many of them not return my phone calls. The new web designer I hired was destroying my website and I had to fire him because I was doing all the work. This dream to help others was looking more and more like a nightmare.

I found myself without a home and my stuff in storage waking up every day trying to make this business happen and falling asleep with it still on my brain. I had a new book proposal due and a bridal business to relight. There weren't enough hours in the day.

I write this on the day we launch the site, not for pity's sake, but to show you the truth of pursuing a dream.

I realized this morning, that I stand in almost the same place I stood six years ago when I made the list: No solid home, uncertainty of the huge scale of what I'm going after and if I can do it, fear very much present, and though I have incredible family and friends cheering me on and two young women who work hard to see this dream come to life, I feel alone. Further, it now costs me money to work instead of bringing in income.

So why keep going?

Because I believe this conversation that women and men have about their dreams needs to change. I know after six years of pursuing my dreams that our dreams are the roadmap to life we're meant to live. I have no idea how this will turn out, but I've opened doors and met incredible people along my way, and I'll always be grateful for what this journey has taught me. I now believe I've earned a MBA with the hands on experience I've had.

Dreams aren't about fluffy clouds and magic wands. They are about finding the torch to light when you feel like the light has gone out.

 

What's your dream? How have you or why haven't you pursued it? Leave a comment and let's start this conversation.

A New Thanksgiving Tradition - DreamsCo

I thought it would be fun to put up a challenge this Thanksgiving. Everyone knows the holidays can be filled with many emotions: gratitude for the good; tension and happiness shared with family; new love; sadness over losses; stress about overpacked schedules - oh yes, it's a wonderful and difficult time all at once. What if this year you did something that made you feel really great? You took the time to ask your closest friends and family not just what they're most grateful for, but what dreams are knocking around in the back of their heads that they'd love to do.

Now you may find some resistance. I know I do. I mention dreams and I hear all the reasons why people can't do what they'd love to do someday. But what if you told them that you were going to do something you've always wanted to do this year and you wanted them to kick you in the butt every once in awhile to keep you focused and that you'd be willing to do the same for them.

Then make a pact that this year you'll help each other. Now I'm not saying go to Uncle Sal, who spends most of his days complaining about the weather and the damn news. Find two to four people in your life that matter to you. Tell them that you want to see them make their dreams come true and you need a little help with your own. Talk about why you want the dream and why you're a little scared to go after it.

This is not a competition. No one's dream is harder or better. This is about caring about one another's lives in a deep way.

I know it's scary. I know you might not even know what to go after. But this Thanksgiving ask the question - If you could have anything this year, what would you want?

 

It's Your Turn - Time to Make Your Biggest Dreams Come True - DreamsCo

For five and a half years I've been pursuing my list of dreams. It started with a question, "What If I wasn't afraid and didn't play by the rules?" By asking that one question my life drastically changed. I'm humbled by all that I've gotten to experience and the people I've met who've become friends. I've seen the world, become a published author, spoken in front of crowds, learned new skills, and I've flown literally and metaphorically. But now it's come to a point where my journey needs to become about others. I guess it's true, when you're selfish and fulfill your needs you have more to give back to the world. I've gained so much that now it's time to share. I felt so alone when I made my list, but as I embark on this part of the journey I'm no longer walking alone. I have a vision of a community of dreamers. People coming together to name their dreams and to pursue them together.

I want this to be a movement of people who don't settle in life but reach for magnificence, because only in dreaming can we see the life we're meant to live. I believe a world filled with people who achieve their dreams will be a world that's safer, kinder, more giving, and loving because we all know that we need a little good news these days!

To be honest I have no idea how I'm going to do this, but I'm just walking this path and figuring it out as I go. 

The Power of the Female and Male Spirit - DreamsCo

Last Sunday I had the honor of speaking to The Red Hat Society leaders from all over the country and even Canada about going after their dreams. What an incredible group of women that touched my heart, taught me about the power of aging not only with grace but with zest and passion, and above all how to embrace all that's incredible about being a woman. 1378012_10201852956183465_34498282_n

I told the women at the conference that I felt they were the most powerful group of women in history. This society of red hat and purple clothing wearers celebrate being women and are 70,000 worldwide strong. If each one of them, through example, showed women that going after their dreams is not only a right, but also important, we'd create a movement of women believing in their own worth instead of the media's example.

In another week or two I'm going to begin a movement of getting women to go after their dreams, so I thought it was a good time to revisit my thoughts on the feminist movement.

I was born a feminist. By the age of five, I'd decided I'd never take a man's name. I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to become a priest or even an altar girl. I wanted to know why professional sports were all about men. I was angry whenever I was told that I was a pretty girl and should marry rich. Even the women in my life, who always told me I could do anything, still instilled the idea that I needed to know how to cook and clean to be a proper wife someday. I was taught through example that my worth was based on how much I took care of others.

As I grew into a young woman, I encountered feminist who ridiculed me for how I dressed and lived. They felt because I wore high heels, make-up, feminine dresses, and allowed men to open doors for me, that somehow I lessened the female gender. I disagreed.

There's a power in being a woman. It has nothing to do with hair color, breast size, weight, or age. It comes from the softness of being feminine, and within that softness is a power equal to, if not stronger than, the warrior spirit of a man. A man becomes speechless at the sight of a confident woman, who knows who she is. When that same woman looks at a man with love and the need to be loved, his heart belongs to her. Since the beginning of time men's Achilles heels have been women and the fear of women's power caused femininity to be suppressed.

Somehow in our need to find equality, women haven't turned to this power, instead they've tried to become more like warrior men. I think this has left many men wondering who they are supposed to be in relationships, in the work place, and in life. They've been asked to be softer, more emotional, and many are unsure if they are supposed to open a door for a lady and pay for dinner or if they're insulting the woman when they do so. It has created a generation of lost gender identities and many men have become what my friend calls, 'flow boys', I'll go with whatever you want me to be. A therapist once told me, "We are trying so hard to build our girls that we are burying our men." This leads to women being frustrated, men being lost, and no one being able to be who they really are. In our search for equality as women, we've somehow decided that men need to be less or different. How is this any better?

Why can't we have equality in the workplace while still being feminine? Why do we have to demand that men help out in the household when both partners go to work? Shouldn't this be common sense? Do we have to give up being female and the softness we need in order to have this equality? There has to be a better way that allows us to be ourselves while still leading.

I was speaking to my friend Jane from Midlifeblogger, and she said, "The definition of feminism, is that women should be able to be whatever they need to be without judgment while being treated equal to their male counters. If a woman wants to stay home and raise her babies she can still be a feminist." Then she added, "You my dear, are the face of the new feminism. You can be independent, travel the world, like who you are, speak your mind, and still allow yourself to be a feminine, soft spirit."

The more I go after my dreams and seek a life where I believe I can have it all, the more comfortable I become with who I am. I've come to realize that I love being a woman and as I embrace my femininity, my softer side, I feel more power in who I am.

For many years, men have dominated. There are women who believe that it is our time to be on top and that men should be lessened in order to achieve balance. In truth, women aren't conquerors and to become like men would only create more masculine imbalance. In our softness we need to see, that it is in accepting one another for the true spirits we are that we can find balance, equality, and happiness.

Perfect Timing - Being in The Moment - DreamsCo

Here's the truth - there's never going to be perfect timing. You're never going to have all the knowledge you need to go after what you want.

The Power of Determination - DreamsCo

Two weeks ago I made my 91st dream come true - I landed my first double jump in figure skating. Landing a double or an axel in figure skating as an adult is incredibly difficult. In order to make it happen you have to fall over and over and over again. And even though I wear pads on my knees and hips I worry about my hands, my elbows, and getting injured. This fear locks me in, causes me to wimp out and I get stuck doing the same dang mistakes repetitively. So what happened once I landed it? I jumped around, I sent a text to my coach, and then proceeded to lose it. I haven't landed it since. Today, my coach and I went back to the drawing board going through each and every position my body needs to hold in order to create the rotation in the air. Sometimes I think of the money I've spent just to learn these jumps. I wonder if it's worth it, but then I realize, where do I go from here if I don't go for it? I can remain doing the things I do well and be content. Or I can work hard, become frustrated, get bruised, hit exhaustion all with the chance I'll never feel it again. But to feel that rotation, the freedom, the knowledge that I overcame my fear - yep it's worth every penny and bruise.

When I think about 91 of my biggest dreams completed, it doesn't seem real. I have to look at it, to revel in it, to realize all the magical moments from the last five years that have taken place. And then I have to wonder where I go from here?

My priest told me a story one day about a man who was an alcoholic. The man didn't feel that he deserved God's love and Father Anthony said, "For one month I want you to go out each day and sit in the sunlight. You don't have to be anything to receive the warmth of the sun. This is like God's love." The man went out everyday and for the first month he didn't even feel worthy of sunlight. The next thirty days he began to heal and to feel worthy of love. And on the 90th day of receiving he realized he was casting a shadow and needed to turn and share this love with others.

I have ten more items on my list, but at this point I feel the need to turn around. I've been writing about my journey for three years; sharing all that's happened with the hope to inspire. Now I no longer want to hope, but to create a movement. It's time for people to step up, take hold of their dreams, and make them come true. For those who go and sit in the sunlight and soak up its worth have more to give to others in the end. It starts with a simple question. If you could have anything, go anywhere, or do something in the next year what would it be?

 

Learning to Tango Dream Come True - DreamsCo

   

 

If you've ever seen the movie The Scent of a Woman then you know why I wanted to learn to tango. Tango is sensual, passionate, and fiery. And when I began taking lessons, the dance was harder than I would've imagined.

Salsa was easy for me to learn. I picked it up almost instantaneously in the clubs -twirling and dipping with ease. But Tango is an art form that must be trained. Every student begins by learning to walk. In tango you slide your foot forward and lean your body over the weight of the front foot. Sounds easy, but not when your balance feels shaky and you might just teeter over. Backwards walking is even harder and there's nothing natural about the positioning.

And then there's the closeness. Argentine tango is not for the shy. It's done in close embrace and you lean your chests into one another for balance. You must rely completely on your partner because it's almost like those exercises in group training programs where you push against one another's hands at an angle and keep each other up. If one person pushes to hard the other will topple over. If one person gives in and lets go the other will fall on their face. This is tango - a partnership of balance that must be kept while moving around.

But when done properly, when all the parts flow together and you lean gently into one another, feel the beat of the music and flow to its passionate rhythm you feel like you float on sensuality and grace.

I was lucky enough to go to a Milonga in Buenos Aires. Here a live band played incredible tango music. Master dancers moved together across the floor effortlessly in a swirl of heat. And it was here on this dance floor that I fell in love - no not with a man - but with the dance.

I will spend the rest of my life learning this dance. I'm not certain I will ever master its beauty for it takes so much time and practice. But forever I will be enchanted by its music and movement.

And maybe some day soon, I will find that perfect tango partner. The one that knows just the right lean and we will dance together forever.

Collection of Perfect Moments - DreamsCo

I’m a collector of perfect moments. Those times where you wouldn’t change a thing and though you know that in a flash it will pass, for that brief whisper life is miraculously beautiful. The collection sits within my mind and heart and during rough patches I can revisit knowing that the pain will slip away just as the perfection has.

Sometimes I journey back to a hillside in Futaleufu, Chile on a starry night where I sat in a field with five other people some I’d just met a few hours before. A young man’s fingers plucked guitar strings sending a melody into the soft, quiet breeze as blazes of color streaked across the sky in a meteor shower. From within the pocket of my sweatshirt I pulled out a chocolate bar from Bariloche, Argentina a hot commodity in this tiny town that has groceries delivered once per week. I broke pieces and handed them to my new friends. As the candy melted in my mouth I lay back and detailed the moment in my mind.

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Then there’s the bank of the Charles River on the Fourth of July with the water lapping against the grassy shore as the first fireworks exploded into the dark sky, timed to the music of the Pops.

 

Boston Pops Fireworks

 

And of course Florence, Italy in Piazza Signora. Alone, I curled into the stonewalls of the ancient buildings reading a decadent book as I sipped wine and listened to flute music fill the square. An artist sat across the street, looking up at times and I realized he was drawing me. Immediately shy, I tried to hide under my hair. He crossed the street, lifted my chin, nodded and began to draw again.

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And last Friday, I sat in Cafe Vittoria in Boston's North End writing my second novel. I listened to the cappuccino maker steaming, the crowds of children lined up for gelato, the tourists making dinner plans, and the locals speaking in Italian. I drank my latte while I tried to find the perfect words for the opening of my story. Joined by a very good looking man, I put my writing aside and for a couple of hours had one of the easiest conversations of my life. Though I was hopped up on caffeine, exhausted from lack of sleep, and feeling a little overcooked from the day's heat, as I watched him smile and laughed with him, yeah, it was another perfect moment.

When you ask people about their life stories, many will tell you the hardships, the pain, the worry they’ve encountered. As a writer, I collect these stories as well, trying to reach the depth of emotion so that someday I can create the hearts and souls of my characters.

But for me, the moments of bliss, the fragments of life that seem touched by the grace of God when I’m so amazed by this incredible world, these are what I try to imprint on my soul. They’re the moments that make me realize why I’m alive – to touch, taste, love, and be embraced by the majesty of life.

Lazy Days of Summer - Perfect for a Deep Breath - DreamsCo

   

I sat on the swing my grandfather built when I was a little girl wondering how ten of us ever fit on this small slider. The stars shone through the lush trees and a soft wind rustled the leaves. Fireflies burst little bits of light all over the yard and the frogs croaked in the woods. I could hear my mother washing dishes in the house that my grandfather had built when she was a child. It was a scene straight from my novel, The Lake House, and for the first time in months I took a deep breath.

My lungs almost didn't know what to do with the air. I'd been running at a the pace of a jack rabbit, breathing shallow while living on adrenaline. The wild ride of the last few months with my book coming to publication and my 90th dream coming true hadn't allowed me much time to think or process all that had happened. Somewhere in the mix was my birthday and people trying to celebrate. My broken toe had healed, my book had been chosen as an Amazon Premier Featured Summer Read. Book signings and book clubs, offers to speak at different events - all of it was exciting while I pushed for more.

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But with all the excitement there have been questions. What's next? When you finish your list what will you do? What's the next book? Will there be a sequel? Will sales be big enough to make it to the Lists?

In this moment of silence on my grandfather's swing, I realized that I needed more deep breaths. The future is going to happen, well in the future, and all the questions about what will transpire have no answers at this point. All I can do is this moment and if I allow the summer to slip by, if work is everything and I forget to live, to breathe, to enjoy the moment, I'm going to miss this incredible present.

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So today I breathe, even if the air is a bit humid. I hike in the lush forests of New England. I go to the beach and I play with my niece on skating rinks. I do the work that's before me and then I play. For no one ever looked back at life and said, "I wish I hadn't taken that moment to really appreciate life."

I think more than anything this summer, you should put downtime on your bucket-list. For the lazy days of summer past are the perfect time to move a little slower, sit with a glass of lemonade under a tree and read a book or laugh with friends. It's the time to be a child again wondering at the world and playing in a sprinkler. Happy Fourth everyone!

And doesn't my book look awesome in this Thunderbird. I tried to convince the owner to drive me around in it for a book tour across the nation, and he almost agreed. LOL

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Flying on a Trapeze 90th Dream Comes True - DreamsCo

Just a week shy of 101 Dreams Five Year Anniversary, I made my 90th dream come true - I flew on a trapeze. When I was in the ninth grade, the circus came to my school as a fundraiser. The performers joined our gym classes and taught us juggling while a huge trapeze apparatus was erected in the front school yard. While in English class I could look out the window and watch the performers practice. Everyone was welcome to join the circus and the performances, but between incredible shyness and the lack of money I never took the chance. But boy did the dream live in my heart.

So for my birthday this year I decided it was time. I went to Oakland Trapeze Arts with a friend and signed up for a class. Only $45, so I thought I was taking an introduction, but when the time came for the class to begin three of my classmates wrapped their hands and began to climb the ladder without instruction. In moments they were swinging back and forth without a harness and I was feeling rather out of place.

Then the instructor came up to my friend and I and explained that it was an open class for all levels. Not intimidating at all! She had me step up to a bar with a mat under it, pull my knees up to my chest and over the bar, let go of my hands and swing, then come back up and release. With that done, she placed the harness around my waist and told me to climb the ladder. All I had to do was follow the teacher's cues and do exactly what she just told me. What? I'm going to jump off, swing once, put my knees up, let go, and reach back on the first try? What about taking this slow? I didn't say any of this, I simply smiled like I was fine with it.

The ladder was narrow and rickety. At the top of the platform, I was shaking as the woman before me jumped off and did flips and twists. The instructor clipped in my belt, had me lean out to grab the bar as he held my waist and then they said, "Hup" and I went. Almost immediately I was high in the air and the call for knees up came. Okay no problem I did it. Then a half second later he told me to let go. Nope, not that quick I thought. Give me some time! The second pass I let go, reached back, and then came back up.

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When I dropped to the net, I was happy, excited. "That was cool!"

"Great, do it faster next time. This is what the problems were," he said as he critiqued my form.

Next thing I know I'm up there again moving faster. This class was not meant for just playing, they were there to push me along, and teach me the art because just a half hour later it was time for catches. Now I was going to let go, reach back, grab hands, and release my legs all at the same time. No comfort zone for trapeze artists. Each time I was shaking as I stood at the edge of the platform and jumped.

I accomplished the catch twice with no problem except I held with my knees just a little too long causing bruising. As I dropped down the instructor said, "You're like the monkey who refuses to leave one vine before he's secure on the next. If you want to fly you have to let go and trust that the next vine is in your reach."

Wow, great advice for life too. And on the third try I did just that.

The Lake House and A Flying Trapeze - DreamsCo

Yesterday was my birthday. I woke up incredibly grateful for friends, family, adventures, and this incredible year I've had. Instead of writing a blog about how I'm feeling and what I've done, I've decided to show you the last week of my life in pictures, links and videos. Last Friday Chicago Tribune picked THE LAKE HOUSE as one of the best summer reads.

Chicago Tribune Pick

And who says the Jersey Shore doesn't have great taste? They picked THE LAKE HOUSE along with Stephen King, Dan Brown, and Sarah Jio as best summer read. Jersey Herald

Then last but definitely not least - I completed my 90th dream come true. I flew on a trapeze and I loved it. I didn't need another activity in my life, but I have a new addiction. Could someone clone me so I can have more time to enjoy everything I love about life?

A Bucket-List for Summer - DreamsCo

The week before Memorial Day I still hadn't made any plans for the long weekend. To be honest, I was wrapped up in the excitement of my book. Romantic Times picked it as a suggested read. Duane Reade in Manhattan is carrying it. It looks so pretty on the shelf. The book has been spotted in Costco, Sam's Club, The Paper Store, and at Dallas Fortworth Airport on the kiosk outside the book store. People are writing to me raving about the story. Every day brings new excitement and more work. So in the craziness I forgot to celebrate the coming of summer. IMG00424-20130523-1308mainstreammay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest parts of living in Sacramento, CA is all the wonderful places I can visit: Route 1 Coastal drive, Yosemite, Tahoe, Napa Valley, beautiful hikes to waterfalls, Monterey and Carmel, and Mendocino. I can easily drive up the coast to Portland, Oregon or just a day in the bay. There are lakes and rivers to swim in and concerts to attend, but when I don't make plans ahead of time it's too easy to stay home.

I decided that I didn't want my summer to slip away caught in the undertow of work no matter how much I enjoy working. So I decided that I'm going to make a summer bucket-list of all the things I want to do by the end of August. This way I'll be certain to look back at the summer of 2013 and know that I lived it to the max.

THE LIST

Ride roller coasters

White water kayak at least five times.

Sit on the banks of the Charles River for Fourth of July.

Spend at least five days at the beach reading great books.

Go camping at least five nights.

Go to Monterey and Carmel.

Compete in two skating competitions.

Play on a trapeze.

Dance salsa in San Francisco and Boston.

Take a trip outside the state to a place I've never explored.

 

What's on your list for the summer?

 

 

When a Dream Comes True - The Lake House Makes Its Way Into The World - DreamsCo

The last two weeks have been a blur of activity. Each morning I wake to new exciting news: a good review; being chosen as one of the six best summer reads by CBS; The Paper Store choosing my book as their June Book Club event; Costco carrying my book; great first week sales; book signings; and emails from people who have read and loved the book.  ReadingOnBeach Everyone keeps asking me what it feels like, but I'm not certain how to respond. When you've wanted something since you were a little girl and suddenly it's happening the emotions are overwhelming: excitement, pure joy, and of course the ever present fear that I"m not doing enough or I won't be enough in the end. (Dang that pesky feeling!)

The strange part is that there's also the touch of fame. People want their pictures taken with me. They smile and stare at me telling me that they can't wait to tell their friends that they've met me. The book is taking on a life of its own as people tweet and repost and rave, while others make comments that the book has scenes that are too "steamy" for comfort. (Hey, I write about life, and sex is part of life. It's not romance, but men and women share intimacy and I guess true love scenes that aren't bodice ripping crazy or only hinted upon haven't made their way to stories.)

Suddenly there's a video of me talking about, The Lake House, and articles written by journalist. My private world, hidden behind a blog that's completely controlled, is no longer the only place to find information on me. And though this moment is one of the greatest in my life it's also brought out the insecurities.

As a young woman I lived through my insecurities. When I lost enough weight and exercised away my curves then I could go after my dreams. If I acted in a way so that everyone liked me, then I was acceptable to society. More than not, I hid from the world.

Going after my biggest dreams in life, following the path of this list, caused me to come out from behind the shadows. I became confident in who I am and I stopped making excuses for my perceived flaws. Then the night the video was released, it all came rushing back. I couldn't look at it for fear that the person I saw in the mirror didn't live up to the one on the camera. Reviews were something I tried to hide from in case they said something that would hurt.

The Lake House Video

I know it's all quite silly. I know it's time to shake it off, be proud of all that I've accomplished and say, "This is what I've done, this is who I am, and whatever anyone says, well it doesn't matter." The great part of becoming an author is that I get to be surrounded by incredible female authors and it turns out these emotions I'm having - well they're common even amongst the most successful.

So if you're putting off going after your dreams until the perfect moment when no one will be able to find your perceived flaws - there's never going to be a time. The good thing, no one else will notice those ideas of weakness you see. They may view you through their perceived flaws but for the most part they'll see you as someone who took a risk and they'll remember the dreams they wish they could make come true.

 

How to Throw a Book Launch Party - Or The Best Night of My Life - DreamsCo

In February of 2013 I was returning from South America and I found myself watching the "Sex in The City" episode where Carrie has her book launch. Done in Hollywood style, the party was held in a swanky two-story ballroom with all the top socialites from New York City. The major papers were in attendance taking her photo and getting quotes. When I reached New York City the next day and met with my fabulous publicist at Gallery Book/ Simon & Schuster we laughed about the party from television. "No one does it like that unless they're already famous," Jean Anne Rose said.

Well on May 10th I held my party, and it might not have been in a prestigious hotel in a big city with people dressed in cocktail dresses, but I think it was better.

Having a book launch party has been a dream since I was little, but I couldn't see myself being comfortable having a reading and a signing with all eyes on me the whole night. Instead, I wanted a party that brought together all forms of artistry. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish it, but heck, I haven't known how I was going to complete any of my dreams before I started. Like everything else on my list, this night came together in a miraculous way. Everyone I asked to participate came with enthusiasm sharing their talents in a way that had the crowd excited.IMG_9721

In my last blog, I spoke about worrying that no one would come to the party. When the doors opened at Gallery 21Ten on K St. in Sacramento, CA there was a crowd inside and out. I looked up completely amazed as people stood in line to buy books, savored the wonderful wineries: Bob Hoffman from Mountain Ranch Winery; Cio Perez from Perez Vineyards, Napa; and Alex Sotello Wines, Napa. These people brought their lovely, bold, smooth wines just to support me in my endeavor. Capital City Catering, Sacramento asked at the last minute to help out and they brought a beautiful build-your-own pasta bar and served their food in champagne glasses. The chocolate truffle cake from Ettores Cafe weighed twenty-five pounds and people devoured its decadence. Party Divas catering in Napa circulated trays of stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta, and mini tortilla bowls and finished the night with bite-sized strawberry shortcakes.IMG_9700 963843_309958962470985_1611349450_o

By 7:30 Jerry Kennedy of the Powder Keg of Awesome began mc'ing and kept the night of entertainment rolling. Pam Metzger, a local actress, read my first chapter aloud to a huge crowd. The Green Valley Theater company acted out three scenes from my book before The Comedy Spot's Bro Time came up. I gave the two talented comedians three scenes from my book and they had the crowd laughing hysterically. While waiting for the grand finale guests took their turns at the mike to read poems they'd created for a poetry contest Sunni Harley from The Princess Christian Book Club had created and through the crowds cheers Sunni awarded $100. And then Mike Del Campo's Dance Studios presented Salsa Riquisma, an incredible salsa team, and they took over the gallery in a flash of red, white, and black lighting up the room. People were cheering and saying over and over, "How can I learn to do that?"949589_388272667956789_2007616775_o 948653_388272704623452_1378969912_o

Amidst all the fun I was signing books with a line that never ended. Carol Dalton's beautiful art work graced the walls of the gallery creating a beautiful ambience. Guests were able to wander through the Art Complex Co-Op weaving in and out of beautiful rooms where artists displayed their masterpieces. Jimmy Joy Jewels had me decked out in stunning jewelry for the evening and I felt like a movie star at the Oscars. Aaron Guzman, from Unique Photography, who at the last minute saved the party with his sound system, snapped pictures capturing the memories I might forget in the whirlwind, while my friend Lisa Randall from Dynasty Video Productions made certain I'd get to see all of the acts at a later date when I wasn't signing books.466398_10200848602194890_1868544210_o

Throughout the night the soulful voice of Stevie Nader could be heard as he played guitar and sang. I'd first heard Stevie play at a restaurant, and though he'd never met me before this night, he came and played intermittently for over an hour bringing his incredible Jack Johnson-like sound to the party. Record companies you really need to sign him!IMG_9670

When I finally stood in front of the large crowd it was hard not to have tears in my eyes. All the hard work of writing this novel and bringing it to publication was being celebrated in a way that I almost couldn't comprehend because it was so fantastic. These people in front of me, some close friends, others strangers before this night, had gathered to celebrate my story. I realized that "Sex in The City's" launch party had nothing on mine. This night wasn't about opulence and egos. It was about the power of community and friendship - and that's what THE LAKE HOUSE is all about.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this dream bigger than I could've imagined. You'll be in my heart forever and I'm so touched by what all of you did! I want to write another book just so I can bring all that talent back to that beautiful room. You amaze me!

Photos below are from Aaron Guzman: Uniquephotography.netIMG_9886 IMG_9865 IMG_9854 IMG_9852 IMG_9842 IMG_9840 IMG_9813 IMG_9765 IMG_9741 IMG_9694 IMG_9790

You're Never Too Young - DreamsCo

This has been an amazing week as The Lake House made its way to stores. It would not be the book it is today without Rebecca Serle. As an intern at Foundry Literary & Media, Rebecca was one of the first readers of my novel. I remember thinking that she was going to be an extraordinary editor someday, but it turns out she was meant for something else. Rebecca's now a full time writer and her first novel, When You Were Mine, is not only a phenomenal YA book it's being made into a movie.She shares her story of going after her dream before she believed she was ready. So inspiring!  

In Rebecca Serle's Own Words

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never thought about publishing novels. I understood that people wrote the books I read and loved. I was moderately convinced this process was accomplished by human beings. But I also knew two things for sure: 1) these “people” were far more talented than I was and 2) they were much, much older.

I moved to New York straight out of college to get my masters in creative writing. I figured I would use the time to get better at short stories (maybe) and figure out how I was going to stay in New York post the degree (definitely). I tried many routes. I interviewed at every magazine in town, was turned away from what I thought was a sure-thing tutoring position, and groveled no less than twenty times to score an internship at a publishing house. Over the two years of my grad program I interned in publishing on both the editorial and agency sides. I got to see how the business worked. I got to meet people. I realized that, yes, real folks did publish novels. It didn’t do much to quell my anxiety, though. The other part was still true: they were far more talented than I was.

When I graduated from my MFA I applied for an editorial assistant job at Simon and Schuster. I figured it was the perfect position for me. I was going to begin my entrée into the corporate world in a real way, now. It wasn’t just going to be about the coffee anymore. But something was nagging at me—I didn’t really want the job. What I wanted was to write. But I wasn’t ready, yet. I didn’t know enough. I was too young. I wasn’t good enough.

Suffice it to say I didn’t get the S&S gig—and it was a low moment for me. I was emerging as a twenty-three year old “trained” writer but I had no idea what to do with my degree.

My mentor in college told me something just before I graduated that I’ll never forget. I was filling her in on my plans for my masters when she turned to me and said: “You know, there’s another option.” I had no idea what she meant, so I asked. “You could just do it,” she said. “Do what?” I asked. She looked at me and I’ll never forget the expression on her face. It was amused, casual, but full of the knowing that comes only from action. “Write,” she said.

Eighteen months after I got turned down for that job at Simon and Schuster I sold my first novel to them. My second book with their wonderful team comes out next spring. They were right, as it turned out. I wouldn’t have made a very good editorial assistant. But I think I make a pretty good author.

You can just do it. You can learn on the job. You don’t need to wait for a future moment when you’re older and wiser and your skills are perfected because the truth is, that moment will never come. A lot of people like to say it’s not too late to realize your dreams but I like to say…it’s not too early, either.

Xx

Rebecca

Come visit me over @RebeccaASerle

www.rebeccaserle.com

Does The Seventh Grade Ever End? - DreamsCo

Next week my book finally hits the stores. I'm certain many people will be excited not only because they get to finally read it, but because I'll stop talking about it. I've been going through a really strange emotion; I'm throwing a launch party and I keep wondering if anyone will come. Friends are excited, I've gotten a great response from the community, but all I can think about is being a young kid and inviting people to my party, but only a few showing up. It wasn't because I didn't have friends; many people just had excuses: they didn't feel well; they had too much homework; another girl invited them to do something better.

Whenever I see other authors getting book tours or going to book fairs I feel like I'm on the outside of a social clique and wasn't invited even though I have my own events and I'm even a keynote at a major writer's conference.

The adult me knows this is stupid. My books are going to be in airports, Walmart, Sam's Club, independent booksellers, and gift shops. Everyone's raving about the story and the cover. I did my first reading at a winery with snow-capped mountains and vineyards as my backdrop. The women were mesmerized as I read and they wanted to go home and read the book that night. I have every reason to be excited and celebrate, but still this little voice of doubt won't be quiet.

I've said for many years when I hear gossip or drama that the seventh grade never ends. That's the year when girls became the meanest and social cliques the cruelest. What I'm realizing is that maybe there's actually a part of us in our adulthood that views our lives through this age. So if we were the popular girl always leading the crowd we view life as though it belongs to us. But if we were timid, a little shy,  or even bullied this twelve-year-old part lingers somewhere telling us that we're going to be left out, we can't have our dreams. Who are we to think that we can do something great?

It's said that those born into money will never have a hard time believing that they deserve to be rich, but those whose parents struggled will always fight with the notion of poverty or financial hardship even when they become wealthy.

I wonder if these twelve-year-olds inside aren't the biggest reason why so many people never reach for their dreams. If we could silence these childish concerns what we could accomplish?

The one thing I've learned is to ignore the fear and the anxiety and fight to move forward. Someday the inner voice will silence or maybe it won't.

My launch party has come together in a miraculous way. Friends are showing up with wine, food, and entertainment. Gallery 2110 in Sacramento is sponsoring the space and I'm throwing the biggest party I've ever attended. So seventh grade, I'm done with you, at least for now.

Going After More Dreams - DreamsCo

You would think after completing 88 of my biggest dreams in life that I would be done, bored, or tired. I mean come on, five years of pursuing everything I want with everything I have - the ups and downs, the focus needed - exhausting right? The funny thing, I want it more now than ever. My life is coming together in a way that I couldn't have perceived five years ago when I sat in a park without a career, a plan, a home, or much of anything else. As my book, The Lake House, comes to publication suddenly my world is opening up. I'm speaking at women's events and talking to people about taking the time for self-care. My bridal business is helping to promote my book and my book is helping to promote my business. This website is being seen by people all over the world and I'm getting emails daily from the far reaches of the globe from people who are deciding to pursue their dreams. My books will be in airports, Walmart, Sam's Club, gift stores and thousands of independent booksellers. The Lake House_invitationI wake every morning wondering what exciting news will be coming my way and go to sleep each night grateful for what has come to fruition.

As I stand here at this moment, I realize that this life was the big dream I had so long ago. The list was more of a map, a delightful gift wrapped present that showed me the way. The journey was filled with new friends, excitement, travel, adrenaline, fear, and fulfillment. Instead of feeling like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump off and wondering if I have the materials to build my wings on the way down, I feel like I'm standing on the highest summit of a mountain range looking back at all the hills I climbed to get here. Each summit was hard to achieve and fulfilling when I arrived, but this is beyond even my wildest dreams.

I'm planning a huge book launch party on May 10th. Having this party is one of my dreams come true. It might even be number 90 depending on if I have time to get another dream in before the 10th. The party is about celebrating and promoting the book, but for me it's about the deep gratitude in my heart for all that has come true.