Uncategorized

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.

IMG_6106

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.

IMG_6102

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

IMG_6051 IMG_6048

The Power of Discomfort - DreamsCo

You would think that after accomplishing almost 90 of my 101 Dreams Come True that I would be comfortable jumping off cliffs wondering if the parachute is going to open or heck if I have enough material to sew the wings mid-air. But to be honest, going after my dreams doesn't seem to get easier. I wish I could say that the fear has stopped, that the nerves are just excitement, and that I now know that I can do anything. If I told you this, it would be a complete lie! I remember just a few months ago, telling you how afraid I was to go to South America for two months as a solo female traveler. I actually felt sick to my stomach and couldn't sleep, yet it turned out to be one of the most magical experiences of my life. So how come, as I stand here, on the brink of going after what feels like the biggest dream of all am I losing my confidence once again?

9781451686722My book, THE LAKE HOUSE, hits the shelves and online in four weeks, and I've never been more afraid in my life! What if no one knows about it? What if no one buys it? What if it hits the shelves, gets back-listed and I don't get the second book deal? All this work, all this dreaming my entire life to fizzle out in the end. I wake in the middle of the night afraid. I constantly google my name and the book to see if anyone knows about it. I realize every moment that I have no idea what being a fiction author really entails.

Top it off, I'm headed to the Adult National Figure Skating Competition this week, and though I'm excited to see friends and to skate the thought of more adrenaline has me exhausted. Why can't I just stay in a comfort zone?

But there is one thing that I've learned in the last five years - discomfort means that I'm reaching for bigger things that I can see myself being. Fear is the emotion that tells me how badly I want something and that it will actually hurt to not get it.

Someone asked me the other day how to make going after your dreams more comfortable. As a society we want instant gratification because we don't like the unknown or discomfort. We want the quick diet or exercise solution - the knowledge that everything will be okay right away. As humans we don't like the in between state. But the truth, pushing hard and taking risks, living in fear for awhile, these are part of the steps to achieving your dreams.

So for now, I have to relish in the discomfort, and know that I'm going to be terrified of failing. But in the end, it would hurt more to have never taken the chance!

San Diego Dream Come True - DreamsCo

When you grow up in New England you dream about California. Heck, I think you dream about the state when you grow up anywhere outside of California. Living here allowed me to visit many places in this fine state, but I hadn't been able to make it all the way to San Diego. I'd heard about the famous Gaslamp District, the beautiful beaches, the great weather, and the zoo, but had never had the chance to visit. Though I love solo travel, I had no interest in going it alone. San Diego seemed like a place for romance or fun times with friends. At the time of making the list, I was lacking in both areas.IMG_0379

As with everything on this list, this dream came to me in a big way. The first time I went to San Diego, a boyfriend at the time had whisked me away for a romantic getaway. We stayed in the Marriott in the harbor, walked the Gaslamp district at night all dressed up, ate yummy waffles in the morning at Cafe 222, and visited the zoo and the beaches. It was the perfect weekend.

But with every dream, one time doesn't seem to be enough. I say this with a bit of a cringe because I don't talk about my personal life on these pages, but San Diego seemed to be the place of romance. Aa few years later, another boyfriend took me to San Diego for a getaway. He was on business and we stayed in a beachside resort. We ate Sushi with rice crispies and strawberries in it ( I know it sounds weird but it was so good). While he worked I visited the farmer's market and walked the beach. I made a decadent lunch from goodies bought at the market and ate on the balcony. Later I watched the sunset.DSC_0074

The next day we explored the coast, popping into funky antique stores and eating seafood on the beach. We stayed in the Gaslamp district, partying till dawn in night clubs. It was the perfect three days.

But San Diego must suit me well, and just a year later I returned, this time with a bunch of friends. We stayed in Coronado, the island across from the city. My friend Alex Sotello is a wine maker and he brought us to restaurants where his wine was served. We feasted on the best steaks of our lives, danced in the night  clubs, actually went to an open-mic. opera, where people got up and sang the most amazing songs, and played music on the rooftop of our hotel while making a barbecue feast.

I would say, I'm happy to keep this dream of visiting San Diego alive. It's one of my favorite places in California and it always brings incredible memories.

Laughing with Strangers - DreamsCo

I was on my way back to my room at Riverpointe in Napa, California. I had a piece of paper in my pocket with a list of 101 Dreams on it with the intention of throwing the list away. My plan for the evening was more time alone sulking, falling apart, and wondering when the pain was going to stop. My life was in ruins, or so I thought. Marilyn Caldwell, the concierge at Riverpointe yelled out from her car, "Come on over and have some wine." I went to decline and before I could say anything she yelled, "Get your happy little ass over here and come play with us. You are not spending the night alone."

I had known Marilyn for a little over twenty-four hours and had quickly realized she wasn't someone you said, 'no' to. I reluctantly made my way to the lobby of the resort and sat down in front of her desk. Soon we were joined by a couple from Columbia and glasses of wine were poured.

I'm not exactly certain how we got on the subject but the woman from Columbia started to tell Marilyn that the way to know how healthy you are is to look at your BM and see if they float. Marilyn stared at the woman with a look of total WTF are you talking about?

A giggle, something I hadn't heard from my lips in sometime, escaped my lips as I drank my wine.

IMG_8215Marilyn stared at the woman and said, "You're telling me that I'm supposed do my business in the morning, get up, turn around and ask my sh@# "how you doin today?"

Now my stomach was starting to shake as I watched her stare at the woman in disbelief, but the woman wouldn't give up. She was determined to make her case. As she and Marilyn continued to banter Marilyn let out this deep belly laugh and suddenly I was laughing so hard at their conversation that tears were rolling down my cheeks. As they continued my sides began to ache and I was coughing from laughing so hard that I had to get up and go to of all places, the restroom.

I wiped my eyes and nose still laughing. Then I looked in the mirror and realization dawned. I took out the list and stared at the final item - to laugh so hard with a stranger my sides hurt. The final dream on the list had become the first to come true.

That was the moment everything changed. I stared into my eyes and thought - What if?

Marilyn is now a close friend and I spend many nights in Napa laughing till my sides ache. Thank you girlfriend for beginning my journey and not taking no for an answer.

IMG_1101

Trying to Remain Positive and Grateful Everyday - DreamsCo

I tend to be a positive upbeat person or so I thought. It's easy to feel that life is perfect whenever one of my dreams is coming true - at those times I feel like magic pixie dust lights my path and everything is easy. But then there's the day to day when I'm driving in heavy traffic, dealing with customer service on-hold waits, or trying to figure out what's next in my life and being afraid that I'm taking wrong turns. On the regular days I find that I can be downright grumpy and a bit negative.

When I put this dream on my list I wasn't certain how to make it come true. I'm human and to say that everyday I'm going to be upbeat and positive - well it just wasn't working.

So I put myself on a diet per say. Twenty-eight days where I would focus on everything I was grateful for. I actually got the idea from Rhonda Burnes and her book The Magic. In her book she has exercises to feel grateful everyday. Start the morning off writing down ten things you're grateful for in life and say, "Thank you." Hold a stone at night and remember all the great things that happened in the day and then choose the best one and say, "Thank you."

I started it on a day when I felt completely down. I was standing at the brink of everything I'd ever wanted with my career, yet feeling like I was failing and without a clue on how to move forward. Instead of focusing on the fear of failure I began to focus on all the good that had taken place in my life.

Within a few days, my attitude changed. Many of my fears dissipated as answers came to me. It seemed like magic was filling my everyday and bit by bit everything began falling into place.

I'm still human. I still fear even with all the dreams that have come true, but what I've realized is that you can change everything in a matter of seconds by turning your thoughts towards gratitude. I may not be positive and grateful every moment. I still get overtired, hungry, stressed, fearful, and well cranky at crazy drivers. But I have a trick, start every day with gratitude, finish every day with gratitude and believe that something higher and stronger than me is always on my side.

Learning Photography Dream Come True - DreamsCo

There's something magical that happens when I hold a camera: the world slows; the fine details come to life; and I find myself almost in a meditative state. I love traveling the world with my camera in hand, capturing what I see.

My grandmother was a photographer and I remember sitting in her kitchen as a child with the lights off watching slide shows of her latest photographs. When I was a teenager my brother gave me my first SLR and though I tried to learn on my own how to take photos with the camera, I couldn't seem to understand the concept. As I became older and traveled the world, I knew that I had a natural eye for taking pictures, but I never got the hang of taking the camera off automatic. As I bought a better camera, people raved about my photos, but I felt like an imposter. I had no idea what I was actually doing.

Then I met James Tennery at a private party in the Napa Valley. (Once again, one dream leads to another dream coming true.) James agreed to teach me photography if I was willing to model for him. I have a horrible fear of being in front of the camera. I hate doing it and feel like a deer in headlights, but I was willing to do just about anything to learn this art form. It took just a few lessons with James and I was off auto mode. He was able to teach me that ISO was film speed, aperture was depth of field, and shutter how long the camera allowed light to come through to the sensor. Suddenly, my photos were taking on new form.

James and I would go out and shoot together. Watching how he took photos taught me to see the light in things, literally. I realized that photography was more about how the light affects a subject. He taught me to shoot dirty - that sometimes the greatest photos come from playing, making mistakes, and just shooting everything you see. I'm forever grateful to Jame's teachings. As with any art form, I will continue to grow and learn for the rest of my life. I will find other photographers to shoot with so I can learn from them as well. And more than that, I will continue to seek out the beauty this world offers so that somehow I can find a way to capture it through my lens.

 

 

 

Photographing Slot Canyons Dream Come True - DreamsCo

I've wanted to visit the slot canons of the southwest ever since I saw my first photograph of the curved orange rock as the sun hit it. It looked mystical and stunning and I wanted to be inside that place of light and darkness and feel the stone against my hand.

Antelope Canyon is probably the most well known slot canyon and I thought it might be the only one of it's kind. I had to go to Vegas for a convention and decided I would drive the five hours out to Page, Arizona. I knew that I would have to pay for a tour into the canyon since it's on reservation property and can only be seen with a guide. I had made all the reservations when I found out that this wasn't my best choice. A local told me that Antelope Canyon was a huge tourist area and I would be stuffed into the canyon with probably close to one hundred other people taking pictures of the tunnel of light. I'm not into touristy places so I decide to find another slot canyon to make my dream come true.

It turns out that there are many slot canyons in the southwest and one only has to ask a park ranger for directions. In Escalante I learned of three canyons close together. It took my friend and I over an hour to bump along twenty miles of dirt road to reach the parking area. There were no marked signs and on a few occasions we realized we were lost. We walked into the area not certain where to even find the canyon and the memories of 127 Hours the movie ran through my mind.

But when I entered the first slot canyon all fear ceased to exist. In this tight canyon carved by thousands of years of water I was lost in curves and sculpted stone created by the greatest artist on earth, mother nature. I was awed by the magnificence of this world as I crawled, climbed, and shimmied through tight spaces. The photographer in me took over and I found myself lying down in the sand to take the perfect shot. The canyon walls showed different stories depending on which angle I saw it from. In one view I saw a face, in another curves of sensual light. 

In these small canyons I had the ability to be alone as my friend took photos in another part of the canyon. Outside the walls was brutal mid day heat, but within was cool meditative place with air crisp and clean almost ionized from the stone. Hidden underneath the surface of dry dusty earth were these treasures just waiting to be found.

Zion & Bryce Canyon Dream Comes True - DreamsCo

IMG_2438
IMG_2438
IMG_2492
IMG_2492

The wind blew across the canyon as the sun set in pink, purple, and orange. The crowds had left and I sat alone on the edge of the rock staring at the magnificent display of nature. There were stories in the topography of Bryce Canyon. The erosional force of rainwater has shaped the colorful limestone rock into bizarre shapes, including slot canyons, and spires called "hoodoos." As I looked at one angle of the amphitheater it reminded me of the Terracotta Warriors in X'ian, China all lined up to march against the castle on the other side. I saw many castles that looked as if there were dragons wrapped around the gates. As I stared in awe of this magnificent display of nature, I felt like a child again making pictures out of clouds on a hot summer day.

I had always wanted to see the canyons of the west, but there was a part of me that thought I wouldn't love the desert. Being from New England I have a penchant for lush green landscapes and I thought of the dessert as dusty and dry. Little did I know that the high desert is far from tumble weeds and sand. My first glimpse of this area was driving into Zion National park late in the afternoon. The tables of rock met lush valleys of trees and rivers colored with wild flowers splashing the entire area with the look of autumn foliage in New England. The world looked painted in bright colors, the blue sky brighter against the red rock.

IMG_1938
IMG_1938

I camped in Zion for two nights, staring up at the stars under the watchful eye of the canyon as streaks of green flew across the sky in a meteor shower. During the day I hiked to the Emerald Pools seeing waterfalls. Then up to Angels Landing where I made my way across the steep path holding onto chains to come to a place where I felt like I stood in middle of the entire canyon. I had no idea when I chose to come to Zion that it was the Yosemite of the Southwest, it's greenery lush and the canyon walls deep.

IMG_2044
IMG_2044
IMG_2115
IMG_2115

My last day in Zion, I hiked the Narrows, a walk through water and narrow canyons. I bought ten dollar water shoes, grabbed a stick from the edge of the riverbed and began my journey. The rocks were slippery and impossible to see in the muddy water. At times the river rushed and I crossed class one rapids, the water becoming waist deep. It wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't holding my camera in one hand determined to protect it from getting wet. I had journeyed into the canyon alone but quickly met up with a father and son hiking together. I decided I needed a yard stick for how deep the water became in each part and began to follow them up the canyon. For six hours we hiked to come to two small waterfalls. My new friends went further up the canyon, but I had to turn back. The waterway was slick and hard to maneuver at times, but I met up with two more men this time from Germany and we spent the next three hours chatting and walking as we stared at the beautiful canyon and slipped our way along the rocks.

IMG_2151
IMG_2151
IMG_2231
IMG_2231

My dream had only been to see these two beautiful canyons, but once again my journey became better than I could've imagined. A friend of mine had flown in from the East Coast to meet up with me. We thought we'd spend three days in Bryce Canyon, but realized that we only needed a day. We moved on to a small town called Escalante outside of Bryce. There we found wonderful restaurants and a beautiful campground. We hiked to waterfalls and spent time in the town talking with locals. Our first night we went to a restaurant that looked like a cross between a mountain lodge with stuffed heads on the wall and an Amvets hall. Our waitress was a beautiful black woman with incredible style and grace who looked completely out of place in this strange restuarant. It turns out that she was from Paris. Then there was Jay, "Who Had Come to Play", our live music for the evening. He was a one man band in a top hat with a stuffed monkey on the cymbal with a tip jar.

IMG_2994
IMG_2994

Sometimes I have no idea why I've chosen certain dreams to have on my list. I go in without expectation and hope that the experience will be worth my time and moneyt. With each dream that comes true, I realize that this journey isn't about checking off items, but allowing the world to unveil it's beauty in every form. Zion and Bryce, the town of Escalante is a treasure, a beautiful painting of how amazing this world and life can be.

Showing Fear Instead of Confidence - DreamsCo

I'm embarrassed to say that it's been two months since I've blogged. It hasn't been for want or lack of things to say, but work has kept me incredibly busy. I've been working hard to launch my new business, writing my second novel, still working on readying my first novel The Lake House for publication, and all and all taking care of the things that need to get done. I did have an incredible moment when a box of my advance reader copies of The Lake House showed up on my front door (Isn't the cover pretty). Then there was the moment when my friends realized my book is now available for pre-order on Amazon and everyone ordered it. You can also catch my guest blogs on Women's Fiction Blog about what it was like to become a writer with Simon & Schuster. I've been going through a tremendous amount of doubt lately. First of all, there's the worry about writing a second book within a years time. I've finished my full synopsis and I'm waiting on my agent to say yay or nay. It's a vulnerable time and fear has taken over my brain like an unwelcome house guest.  I'm starting my new business and I keep wondering what the heck I'm doing. Who am I to think that I can sell high-end fashion? Then there's the doubt that I can make the rest of my dreams come true. Between the money needed for travel and the time because of work, I just can't see my way through to finish. I've been in a funk of depression even when I take the time to go out dancing. I just can't see how it's all going to work out.

Last Sunday I competed in figure skating and as we took the ice for warm-up I realized all the other competitors were a level higher than me. I watched them fly around the rink with surety after so many years of competing and I lost all confidence. My coach called me over to the boards after a few minutes of warm-up and asked, "Where's the woman who goes after everything with everything she has? I know what you can do, and I'm not seeing you out there I'm seeing your fear." Well that was a smack of cold water to the face. I went out and found my legs and my confidence and things improved greatly. I missed the silver medal by one judge and was happy with my program.

In some ways, I think I've been showing my fear to the world and to myself lately instead of the woman who's made over seventy of her biggest dreams come true.

I've said before that our dreams are the road map to lives we are meant to live. As I went through my week I realized how much my life has changed since making my list of dreams. I now write fiction for one of the biggest publishers in the world. My work day includes finding high-end artists of beautiful products. I go to private parties in Napa at wineries on a regular basis. I dance and figure skate and I'm surrounded by people who support and love me. As my book goes to publication I will be writing a second novel, launching my new business, traveling domestically and internationally, figure skating and competing, and trying to make almost twenty of my biggest dreams come true. This is the life I was meant to live and though my confidence gets shaken, all it takes is that cold water to the face to remind me to enjoy the ride.

6 Ways to Stay Truly Ageless - DreamsCo

Two weeks ago I ran off to Mexico to spend a week on a beach reading good books. To be honest, I was fried. The weeks prior to my departure I felt like I had lost my mind, possibly starting to come down with early onset Alzheimer since I was having blank brain moments more than once per hour. I'd walk into a room and wonder what the heck I had come in for, then remember something else I was supposed to do, only to get to the next room and realize what I was supposed to grab from the last room. Part of the problem is that I walk around with the mega list that needs to be accomplished. Many of my dreams are coming to fruition and there's so much to do. But when  I told people the problems I was experiencing they were happy to tell me that is was a hormonal problem caused by aging. Say what? After I spent seven days on a beach enjoying glorious hours of being a sloth while reading books and eating good food, my lovely brain returned. I was happy to feel it again, and we had a reunion as if we were friends that had been apart for too long. I could once again remember the end of sentences and what I was talking about fifteen seconds before.

While I was in Mexico there was a consistent theme to my conversations. I would tell people that I owned a bridal business, and that I'm a writer and my book  The Lake House would be coming out May 7, 2013 (yes, I have an actual publishing date - woo hoo). People were always amazed that I was willing to travel solo to Mexico and when I told them all the places I'd been in the world they'd ask, "How old are you?" When I explained that I was in my late thirties and not my mid-twenties they didn't believe me. They would ask others in the pool how old they thought I might be. It was all rather embarrassing as strangers stared at my face and demanded that I take my sunglasses off. I might add that I have very blonde eyelashes and when I'm not wearing any make-up, namely mascara, I really have a baby face.

The truth is other people think about my age, and aging in general, more than I do. I don't buy into the whole myth of your body starting to fall apart after 35 or your mind going down hill. I also don't buy into the fertility hype. The other day, I read a very popular blog which stated. A women should marry by 26 so that they can have babies. Therefor in their early twenties they should look for a man the way they would pursue their careers before it gets too late. At any age a woman can have a career, but not a baby. I wanted to reach through the computer and strangle the woman. Yes, because as women our first priority in life is to procreate. For some yes, for others, no. I digress, but so many people love what I do with my life until I tell them my age and then they get so concerned about my damn fertility - like my eggs are any of their business.

When my pool mates finally got off the conversation about my damn uterus and what I could create in it, everyone asked, "What's your secret to looking this young?" Seriously, I've never thought about it until it became such a hot topic on a beach in Mexico. This is what I came up with.

1) I live my life to the fullest going after everything that makes me happy. Stress is a major factor when it comes to the destruction of cells. Look at anyone who's been going through hell and they will look much older than if they were madly in love. So become madly in love with your life and you will look younger.

2) Get up and groove everyday. I met a woman who was still doing the splits and figure skating well into her eighties. Her advice, never stop moving. Our bodies are meant to dance, run, and jump. Look at any kid (well ones who haven't been lured into the seduction of technology) and they will be moving. Adults stop and therefor don't cause all the metabolic fancy stuff that our bodies do to release toxins, make new muscles, and get happy hormones. Find an activity you love and get shakin. And yes, great sex does count.

3) Eat well. Okay, you would think this one was simple. If I put mud in my car it can't run. If I put regular gas it works nice, if I put super duper extreme it's really happy. How come we can't relate this to our bodies? If you water a plant, give it good soil,  and put it in the sun for a couple of  hours it regenerates and grows. Well duh, so does your body. It's not going to regenerate on hydrogenated oils, sugar, fake products created in a lab, coffee, alcohol, or cigarettes. Now a good glass of wine is excellent for health. Good chocolate makes you happy, and a cup of joe is warming, but none of these are enough to provide the nutrients to make new cells. If you want to stay young, you have to renew your body and that takes the right fuel.

4) Wheatgrass juice. This goes along with number 3, but I thought it should have its own line. The green juice from wheatgrass tastes gross - like drinking a mowed lawn. My mother made me drink it when I was a kid and I hated it. But when my cat was diagnosed with cancer and the tumors had metastasized I started to give him wheatgrass juice. In one week, his weight increased, the tumors decreased, the pneumonia and bladder infection was gone along with the internal bleeding. I have to add that I was about to put him down but he was fighting with everything he had to stay alive so I gave him the juice as a last shot. He's now been cancer free for nine months. After that, I started drinking the stuff on a daily basis. So far it's cured another family member of headaches, a friend of hypoglycemia, and has done wonders for my energy.

5)Time is an illusion so therefor so is age. Science wants to tell us what are bodies will do at certain ages, yet so many times it's proven that our bodies are miraculous machines that can overcome anything if we put our minds to it. If you believe that your old and can no longer do things, then that is going to be your reality. If you start making excuses for not having the life of your dreams because of your age, then that too will happen. If you start believing that your youthful and beautiful and forget about the dang number you might just start to feel truly alive. Start checking dreams off your list and you won't feel like you're hurtling towards the grave - but instead romping through life having a ball.

6) Rest. When we're fried in life, when we've gone through emotional upheaval, or we've just worked too hard for too long, we have to rest. In fact, ten minutes of meditation daily is equal to an hour of deep sleep. Our brains and bodies need to recover, but our world is set up for there never to be downtime. And no, Facebook is not downtime!

The Things I've Learned by Going After My Bucket-List - DreamsCo

First of all, I really hate calling this a bucket-list. It's definitely not about doing things before I die, but going after everything I want while I can enjoy it. This way, my dreams have the time to shape my life and how I view the world. With that said, I've realized that after four years of going after my dreams, I've learned a few things. Please see the list below. 1. Anything is Possible. Okay, maybe this is a little hoorah Anthony Robbins motivational, but it turns out that it's true. If anyone had told me that I would live in Florence, Italy for a month, hang glide, ride in a race car, go to private parties in Napa, travel the world, become a competitive figure skater, sign a book deal with Simon & Schuster, meet the greatest people of my life, learn to salsa dance and surf in the time span of four years, I would've told them they were crazy. But it all came true and in the last four years I've made less  money than most people do in a year so it isn't about being rich.

2. It's Not About Being Rich! Many people think when they see my list that I'm some kind of trust fund baby. Ha! Not even close. For the most part, in the last four years I've made less than most people working at a Starbucks. It's the way I choose to spend my money that allows me to do the things I do, but it's more about the magic of life. When you put your mind towards doing something doors open. People come into your life that lead to opportunities and as long as you don't quit, you'll find a way. So saying, "Well it must be nice and if I were rich," is only going to keep you stuck exactly where you are.

3. Material Things Bring the Least Pleasure. There were very few things on my list that had to do with material items, but hey I'm human and there were a couple of wants: have incredible bedding; buy a piece of jewelry for myself; own my home outright; buy a pair of designer shoes; buy a new car. All of these came true, but it turns out that when I think about my list I forget about all of them. Even though they are the most tangible, they aren't what's changed me or made me better. I carry what I've learned everyday from my travels,  the love of my friends, the success of my career, the arts that I've learned and it's completely changed my attitude. My car is great, my house gives me a stable jumping off point, and my bedding is nice to fall into at night, but it isn't important in the grand scheme.

4. Fear Never Goes Away. When you really want something in life there's always going to be fear. It doesn't stop no matter how many dreams I make come true, the more I go after and step into the unknown the more I face that crazy knawing emotion. Instead of waiting till it's gone I've come to realize that it lets me know that what I'm going after really matters to me.

I've learned so much more, but for now I leave you with this thought - your dreams are there for a reason, they'll guide you to the amazing life you were meant to live. Excuses will only keep you from what you truly desire.

To Really Experience Decadence - Another Dream Comes True - DreamsCo

To me, decadence is about enjoying the greatest things life has to offer. It's about the softness of expensive sheets on a down bed; savoring rich chocolate; staring at natural wonders. I was surprised to find out that the Webster Dictionary doesn't agree with my definition. Decadence is the act or process of falling into an inferior condition or state; deterioration; decay. It is unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence. Well the heck with the actual definition I'm sticking with mine. Decadence is the indulgence of all the best that life has to offer. When I began this journey and created my list of 101 Dreams Come True I decided that I wanted to experience decadence to its fullest - to taste life. This past weekend, I realized my dream has come true.

I've written before that one dream coming true has led to others being realized. Meeting an incredible group of friends who love to get the most out of life led me to experiencing decadence. My friends took me to San Francisco for my birthday. As one of my presents I was given a hotel room at the Donatello. Recently renovated, the room was beautiful and even had a flat screen television built into the mirror of the bathroom.

My friend Alex Sotello, who is an incredible rising star wine maker in the Napa Valley, made a reservation at Pasion restaurant and myself and five friends celebrated my birthday. Before I made my list I was more about eating for health and I constantly dieted. Now, I indulge, taste, and savor wonderful food realizing that humans have been given five senses for a reason - to experience all that life has to offer. But still I wasn't prepared for how good food could really taste.

We started off dinner with three different ceviche dishes: halibut, lobster, and ahi tuna. Thank goodness the restaurant was noisy because the sounds coming from our mouths might have created shocked looks from other customers. We moaned with pleasure as we shared the food. The next round of dishes came: kobe beef and conchitas (seared diver scallops, sweet plantain tostone, cilantro mojo, black quinoa sofrito). When I took the first bite of the conchitas I experienced something akin to a first kiss when your whole body awakens. The dish hit every taste bud at once and the whole table sighed with satisfaction.

The meal went on for another hour. We feasted on duck, tri tip, salmon, empanadas, and pork chops. We cleansed our palates with raspberry sorbet. We drank wine, laughed and said more than once, "God, do we know how to live."

Dessert was cinnamon cake, creme brulee, chocolate bread pudding, and mango cheesecake that ensued more moaning and sighs of pleasure.

As I looked at my friends, the smiles on all of our faces, the love we share, and the life that we live so well, I realized that I have come to know true decadence. This journey of going after every dream I've ever wanted has led me to know the beauty of life: tasting incredible food, sleeping in posh hotels, finding friendship that fills my heart with love, travel, and experiencing the world deeper.

I think we're all meant to live this way. We weren't given bodies to treat as machines: Substance in, energy out; Work for money, pay bills; Have friendships and relationships that we love but take for granted. Our biology was created for pleasure; the five senses designed to make us hear, taste, see, and feel all that life can bring. And if we seek out happiness, pleasure, beauty, decadence - life will show us how amazing this world (our playground) really can be.

 

Out of the Comfort Zone - DreamsCo

I just returned from New York where I spent my birthday with friends. My trip included days on the beach in Jersey, lunches with my editor and agent, a party for Foundry Literary Agency's five year anniversary, and Book Expo America. My editor let me see the cover for my book "The Lake House" and I'm madly in love with it. For five days, I was surrounded by successful people who have all pushed past their place of comfort to have the life many dream of having. Last night I took my first real tango lesson in my pursuit to finish my 101 Dreams Come True. Tango is a sensual dance, that needs great balance. To learn to tango, one must first learn to walk as if skating on a tight rope. Every step is actually a slide and many times it felt like I might fall over. I faltered, stepped on a few feet, and had mine stepped on as well. Dancing salsa feels as comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but tango right now feels like walking in heels for the first time. But if I want to learn the dance I have to step out of my comfort zone and make mistakes. I guess this goes back to my dream of learning to be imperfect.

There was a time in my life when I was incredibly shy and hated being out of my comfort zone (I know it's hard to believe.). Being at a party was torture for me. Talking in front of a classroom was a living hell. Social situations broke me out in a sweat. There's still a part of me that wants to curl up and not go into strange situations. I fight with this shyness. Think about it, I'm a writer - you can't choose a more reclusive job that being a novelist. But I knew if I wanted to really enjoy life I had to come out of my shell.

Going after my list of dreams has been a constant battle of stepping out of my comfort zone. Putting up this website felt like standing naked in front of the world. Everything on the list challenges my fears, my belief in myself, and pushes me past what I thought I could do.

But in going after my 101 Dreams Come True, I've learned that the only way to get a life filled with greatness, to become stronger and to have it all, is to reach past the comfort zone. Only then could I find out how miraculous my life was meant to be.

What's your comfort zone? And how do you plan to step out of it?

Out of Grumpiness into Happiness - DreamsCo

I woke up overwhelmed this morning with how much I needed to do today. I'm certain you know the feeling of the long list that feels too tight for the hours in the day. The stress started to rise and I found myself feeling a little short with people in emails that needed to be sent before 7 am and I didn't even like my own company. Before the day became one of those days where my mood created drama and frustration I stopped, centered, took a deep breath and remembered to be grateful: I'm going to New York tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. My business is growing and I have designers helping me to create a new brand that's been my vision for almost a year. My book is in production. I have incredible friends planning great things for my birthday. I get to go skating today. My family is doing well. It's a beautiful sunny day and the jasmine smells incredible.

Oh yeah, instant mood lifter. Now I can face the long to-do list.

The Power of Yes - DreamsCo

The revisions of my novel have been accepted by my publisher and my book "The Lake House" has moved into production. Less than a year from now I will hold my book in my hand. It's an exciting time as I make decisions about a second book, follow the progression of my story's publication and revel in the joy of my accomplishment. Next week I will travel to New York to spend my birthday at the beach with a friend and then will be staying to spend time at Book Expo America and do a little partying to celebrate Foundry Literary agency's five year anniversary. Today, as I was driving from Napa to Santa Rosa along beautiful HWY 12 I looked at the rolling hills dotted with trees, the vineyards that stretch for miles, and the impressive wineries built like castles and realized how much my life has changed since making my list of dreams. Four years ago, I drove this same road and though I noticed the beauty I couldn't take it in. My heart was broken, my life a mess, and I remember begging a higher power to make the pain stop. I haven't been on this road since that day, but the view from within looked drastically different today.

On my return drive I stopped in Sonoma and sat in the park at the tree where I made my plea, "Please, God help me remember what happiness feels like. All around me were families, lovers, and children screaming with joy. I felt alone, lost, and scared. Something told me to make a list of all the times I'd been happy in my life. Then without knowing why I began to wonder what my life would look like if there were no rules, limitation, and if I didn't fear failure. I had no idea at that time as I made my list of dreams, that my life would become so magnificent that my tears would turn to those of immense gratitude.

I realize that the reason my life changed that day was because I began to say, "yes."  The rule when I started this journey was to settle for nothing less than magnificence and to seize every opportunity that came to me. By saying, "yes" the doors began to open. I began to be amazed at all the dreams that came true in such a brief time frame.

The strange thing about this journey is that I realized in the last couple of years I've begun to hesitate when it comes to opportunities placed in front of me. I had the chance to go to New York for my birthday and it took me weeks to make the decision. Somehow trepidation and worry have snuck back in. Instead of booking travel to the places in the world I still want to see, I research and then don't make the final move to make reservations.

But the great thing about life is that every moment we have a chance to better ourselves, realize what's holding us back, and charge forward. Next week when I return from New York I'm beginning Tango classes. I will book a trip to somewhere on my list. But for this moment, I'm going to curl against the tree where I first made my list and revel in all the greatness that has come to me.

Say, "yes" to your dreams, the opportunities, the love, the chances, and watch how life becomes a living miracle.

Time That Slips Away - DreamsCo

I know that everyone is feeling as if life is speeding up. Winter flew by and we're already half way through spring of 2012. I'm not certain where the months are going. For most of this year I've been doing revisions on my novel and building my business. It was hard to make time to train in figure skating and even harder to make room for my personal life. Work seemed to overwhelm every aspect of my being. As I looked at my list of dreams, I realized I've made very little time to pursue any other dream than becoming a bestselling author. I haven't even made a plan on how to pursue more of my dreams.

I know for many of my readers, their lives are so insanely busy that days weeks, months, even years go by with the intention to make changes, to pursue their dreams, and yet when they look back they don't know where they could've fit it in.

I've realized lately that the bigger problem is how much time I waste. It seeps out like heat in a house with single paned windows. I don't know what happens when I get on my computer, but it has a sucking sensation that keeps me glued to the screen. I get on with the intention to check email and then suddenly I find myself on Facebook wasting a half an hour. Then there's Hulu with all the shows I haven't seen, and before I know it I've wasted another forty minutes.

There's also the time that's wasted spinning my wheels. I'm so distracted with everything that needs to get done, that I work on one thing, then switch to the next, only to move on to another, and by the time four hours has passed, I've only bitten into my tasks and not completed any. Most of the time I'm rushing not even paying attention to where I put my keys or my phone that I waste fifteen sometimes twenty minutes per day searching for the items.

Many of these bad habits have had to do with how brain dead I've been after working hours on my manuscript, but still I know that these time-sucks have existed for some time.

So last week I decided to get rid of my distractions. I decided to check email once per day and answer all of it in a half hour. I made a list of things I needed to accomplish and checked them off one by one. Facebook was limited to fifteen minutes to catch up with friends on the other side of the country.

The first three days I was shocked at how much time I gained in my day, and how much calmer I became. My brain wasn't overstimulated, I spent my extra time actually meditating or going for a walk. What was even stranger, I wasn't certain what to do with this extra time.

Then the old habits returned. I began to check facebook more, to turn on hulu while I was eating breakfast only to get sucked in for twenty minutes, and at night I found myself clicking around the internet as a half hour or even an hour disappeared.

The technology that's supposed to make our lives easier and more connected was sapping my time and keeping me from the important stuff. It took away hours I needed to pursue my dreams.

I've made a pact with myself that for the rest of this month I will limit my computer time. I want to live more fully, to not be overwhelmed with all I have to do, because I know if I can stop letting time slip away I will be happier and healthier. I challenge you to do the same.

This week and for the rest of the month, don't let time slip away. Choose one goal, small or large and use the time you would spend on your computer or watching television to pursue it. Go out and smell all the spring flowers and enjoy the weather. You might be surprised how much happier you become.

The Dream That Has No Choice - DreamsCo

I know it’s been two months since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been working on my fiction novel preparing it for publication. My writing skills, emotions, and even physical endurance have gone into being the best that I can be at making my biggest dream come true – becoming a published fiction writer with her book on the shelves. There have been times after hours of work that I’ve laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling unable to form thoughts. Furthermore I’ve been training for the Adult Nationals Figure Skating competition and trying to be better than I’ve ever been at my favorite sport. I haven’t been able to train as much as I would’ve liked, due to a couple of rounds of the flu, and an injured knee and hip, along with time constraints.

In all the hard work, the roadblocks I’ve had to hurdle, and the exhaustion, I’ve realized that it’s not really about the outcome of a dream or the finish line, but it’s about realizing that I get to live my dream. I wake up each morning and spend time writing a story I love. A few times a week I get to put everything aside and skate.

Last week I stepped on the ice and competed at Adult Nationals against women from around the country who worked as hard as I did at figure skating. None of us will ever go to the Olympics. We won’t be on television, but we skate because there isn’t a choice. We fight through injuries, nerves, and physical pain because we love to fly across the ice and challenge ourselves. When people ask me why I skate or write I tell them that it isn’t a choice - both are a part of me.

The week at Adult Nationals was intense as I competed three different times. I was exhausted and drained from working non-stop for two months, but something happened as I took to the ice. My legs became jello with nerves, but then as my music started and I began to flow happiness filled me. I made one small mistake and from there I decided that this moment was mine. It wasn't about a medal, or judges, it was about doing what I love. I took home a silver medal for one of my events and had a week of making new friends, laughter, and skating.

It's so easy when we're working towards a goal to worry about the mistakes and to get caught up in the fear that we won't be good enough. In the end it always turns out better than we hoped it could be. If only we could stop worrying beforehand and simply trust.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this blog is that you need to find the thing in your life that challenges you, makes you afraid to go after it, but that you don’t have a choice to do it. Then no matter what happens, whether you become the best or you do it everyday for pure love, it won’t matter. It will make your life more fulfilled.

Now that I'm home and I'm nearing the finish line for my book I'm evaluating my life and my next steps. As I've looked at my list of dreams I've realized some things have changed. Dreams that were once important, now don't seem like something I want to do. Other things not on the list have become something I want more. I think this time of evaluation is something everyone should do on a regular basis. As dreams come true, it changes who we are and therefor what we want out of life. I'm excited to surge forward to new dreams, new adventures, and new goals - to go after dreams that I have no choice but to want.

Vulnerability as an Asset - DreamsCo

Pink tree blossoms have bloomed all over Sacramento. The sun is shining and though I know that it's still winter it feels like spring on this Valentine's Day. Yesterday I spoke with my editor about the changes I will make to my fiction novel. There's a vulnerability that comes with being a writer. Ernest Hemingway said it best, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Then when you've given over your soul to your story you get to have others review it and tell you what they like and dislike. When the book is done readers will critique your creation. I liken it to standing naked in front of the world while people criticize or compliment not only what I look like but who I am.

In order to be a great writer I know I have to go through this process. The first time it happened I wanted to defend my writing and make excuses for why I wrote what I did. I spent days wanting to never write again. Over the years, I've come to a place where I can listen to the critique, take in what makes sense, sit with what I'm uncertain about, and do it all without losing my confidence. I find that editorial advice is my greatest asset and if I simply allow myself to take it in without my ego getting in the way then my writing becomes stronger.

As humans we're terrified of judgement. Maybe it goes back to the first time we're scolded as kids or embarrassed by a teacher for doing something wrong. I'm uncertain what causes us to be afraid of rejection or criticism, but many people spend their lives afraid to open themselves to a vulnerable place.

The place where this kind of exposure is the scariest is in personal relationships. In order to love and to be loved we have to let someone into the deepest parts of our being. We have to trust another with the most sensitive parts of ourselves. Great relationships work when we allow another human to see our truth, our dreams, our perceived flaws and we see theirs and we are loved and love them deeply for exactly who they are.

The problem that arises is that people aren't always gentle with others hearts. There's a selfishness that runs through our world - love me the way I want you to love me and then I will love you back. Become the person I want you to be and then you will be worthy of me. I watch men approach women in social settings and even though the man is being sincere, the woman brushes him off like he's beneath her so that her ego feels better never seeing that the man was in a vulnerable situation.

I believe the most exposed place of all is when we share our biggest dreams with other people. Our dreams are the place where we realize the person we wish to become. They are the path to the life we want to live. To state your dreams is like stripping off not only your clothing but your human form and saying, "Here's my soul for you to judge. Do you think I'm worthy of having everything I desire?"

It's in our vulnerability not our egos where our spirits reside. It's in the place where we strip away the external. If people became more willing to open up with less worry about others judgement I believe many more people would be able to love deeper, live fuller, and in turn open a place for the people around them to do the same. It's when our hearts are open that we are actually our strongest, but in order to understand this first we must let go of our fear that we aren't enough.

Regret Should Be a Deadly Sin - DreamsCo

  I received my first check as a fiction writer this past weekend. It was an exciting moment. This was the biggest dream I wanted to come true and here was more proof that I accomplished my goal. There's a tremendous amount of work ahead, but I'm thrilled to do it. I've also started researching the travel I would like to do to complete more of the items on my list. I'm unsure how I'm going to make it all happen, but as I look forward to the possibilities, figure out my starting point, and what I'll need to do to get where I want to go I'm energized to take on the challenges and accept the miracles that seem to come when I decide that no matter what I will attain my goals.

Now on to the topic of the week - Regret.

This past week a friend said to me, "I'm so afraid to heal the pain in my life because if I can heal it now then why couldn't I have healed it ten years ago. I've been stuck in this rut for so long and if I start to feel better then I'll know that I wasted all those years feeling bad. I don't want to feel that regret."

This statement might sound strange but it's common. I have another friend who's in a very bad relationship. It's not even a relationship because the man has refused to be committed, but as soon as she walks away he comes back just to be certain she's in love again. Then he disappears. When I ask her why she doesn't kick him to the curb she says, "I've invested so much time. If I leave - what was it all for? If I stay then there's at least a chance that it will be worth it."

Too often we look at our past and regret what we've done - maybe time spent on something that hurt us; changes we didn't make; opportunities we allowed to pass. Our world is focused on looking youthful and I believe this is because we feel frightened that life is passing us by without living the life we envisioned. The problem with spending time in regret is that we're unable to move forward to having the life of our dreams. Regret keeps us locked in the past and it's linked to fear. We're afraid of moving forward because even though we hate where we are it's comfortable. Of course I liken that comfort to that of sitting in a dirty diaper. No one would want to do, but many people sit in their stench and refuse to move.

It's funny that the seven deadly sins are anger, lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, and greed. Regret is not one of them and I believe it should've been the top. The seven deadly sins can all be used in a positive light. Anger can fuel you to change a situation. Lust (for life and sexuality) can bring about joy and feelings of intense emotion. Gluttony is taking in all that life can bring: the joy, the tastes, the beauty of the world. Sloth allows you to slow down and rest. Pride in who you are drives you to be better and stronger. Envy shows you what you truly want from life. And greed - well maybe we should be greedy about living the best life we can live so that we can give more to others.

But regret - what does that give us. It keeps us held in the past afraid of the future and stuck in our smelly... well you know what.

You have a choice everyday. Stay stuck in the past of regret or move forward to the brilliance of a future yet untold. My priest went on a sabbatical and while there he took a sheet of paper with eighty-four boxes drawn on it. Eighty-four is now the average life span. He then marked off a box for each year of his life. When he looked down and saw that he only had seventeen boxes left he said is was humbling and scary. The question became what he was going to do with the rest of his time.

What are you going to do with the boxes you have left? Achieve something great to put in each one or sit around in situations, relationships, or emotions that don't bring anything to your life? It's your choice.

 

Grateful Today.... - DreamsCo

A friend said to me last night, "Maybe you should not be so open about your life and your dreams. It's intimidating." "What do you mean," I asked.

"Your always talking about how amazing your life is and all the great things you get to experience. It's intimidating to me, other people, and especially men. I'm not telling you that you have to change, but just tone it down."

I thought about what she said. I'm not trying to brag or to say, 'look at my life - I have it all together.' Instead, I'm humbled by what has happened and I want to share it with the world because if I can do it then anyone can. But by doing this do I make others feel bad?

I went to talk to my business partner and closest friend. I told him what she said and he became angry. "I'm sorry, but does Donald Trump go around humble about what he's doing? Does any great leader who found a way to live a great life lower themselves to make others feel better about their lives? You are determined to go after your dreams and because of that you radiate happiness. You try to share it with others so that they know they can do it to. And yeah, it's going to make people feel bad not because of you, but because of what they aren't doing in their own lives. So what if it's intimidating to others it's because they know they can be more and they aren't."

So today I'm grateful to my best friend David Klosen who kicked me in the pants and told me that I should be myself no matter what people say.