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?

 

 

A Mother Makes Her Dreams Come True - Becoming A Book Reviewer And Finding Your Voice - A Novel Review - DreamsCo

Today I'd like to introduce Laura Kay. I met Laura when she friended me on Goodreads, which caused me to look at her lovely review site, A Novel Review. Over the last two months, I've gotten to know a little about Laura through emails and her blog. Laura's wonderful energy makes me want to sit on a front porch with her and a pitcher of lemonade and chat away a summer day. I asked her to guest blog on 101 Dreams because I love how she made her dream come true while raising kids. So many women put off their desires until their children are fully grown, but Laura is proof that it can be done. Just because you're a mother, giving everything you have to others, it doesn't mean you don't have the right to what you need in your life and to find your voice. Thank you Laura for everything you do to keep people reading and supporting authors.

And now, I give you Laura Kay in her own words.

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There was nothing more fun than going to a school book fair. Walking up and down the rows filled with new books hoping one could be mine. “Laura, I have enough money for you to get one book,” which book would I pick, what if this book would be better than that book.  Walking out of the school gym clutching my new book to my chest, racing to the car, so I could enter the new world in my hands.

Reading books has always been a huge part of my life. Going to the library and to the bookstore have always been a family outing with the kids. My normal reading pattern would be to find an author I enjoyed and devour everything she’d written. Then I had my third and my fourth child. My time for reading slowed down. Oh I’ll be honest it became non-existent. I missed the escape it offered me. When my daughter started sleeping through the night and my little man went to preschool, I finally found moments of free time. I knew I wanted to start writing, but felt as if I didn’t have a voice. I had worn a label describing who I was for most of my life; wife, mother, daughter, employee. I was nobody special, who cares what I have to say. I began reading about books about writing. Nothing was speaking to me. One common theme was telling me to start a blog. I knew what a blog was, but what could I blog about. I decided to put writing on a back burner and go back to my love of reading. Reading was always my safe place. I began searching the internet for contemporary women authors to see what books were popular. What I found were book review blogs. And a little light bulb went off.

Putting a blog online was fairly simple. When I started a Facebook page I began making friend requests to authors, I was shocked by how many accepted me. I mean authors are my rock stars! Soon enough I was chatting with authors, getting emails requesting me to review their books, them telling me how much they enjoyed reading my reviews. A Novel Review was me, my voice telling people what I thought about a book, sharing my thoughts about a book, spreading the word about a good book and letting others know enough if a book may or may not fit their taste. Then I began to hear the voices of my blog followers or checking my stats on amazon and seeing how many people saying “yes” this review was helpful.

I’ve always been a bit of a wallflower type. Felt as if nobody really cared what I had to say about anything. A Novel Review has allowed me to find my voice.

 

Please visit Laura at her blog A Novel Review, on Facebook, and on Twitter

 

 

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

Sharon Short Talks About Little Girl Dreams Becoming Reality - DreamsCo

Whenever I speak about going after your dreams I make people close their eyes and remember what it was like to be a little kid and answer the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I love this story by Sharon Short about how she took her childhood dreams and made them reality. Sharon Short Author Photo

My little-girl dream was the same as my grown-woman dream now: create stories that move readers, that make them laugh, and cry, and want to read more.

Of course, I didn’t articulate it that way when I was six. All I really knew then was that I loved to read. Reading a story, even a simple picture-book, was akin to falling down the rabbit hole, into another world, escaping away from the chaos of my family’s home life and into some other wondrous world. Reading seemed like a natural extension of the stories I made up in my head, and very quickly, writing stories seemed a natural extension of reading.

My first book was called The Fireman, and it was about, well, a fireman, saving a girl’s kitten from… a fire. (Hey, I was six.) I wrote and illustrated the book on school wide-rule paper, bound it with red construction paper and staples, gave it a price of 1 cent (dutifully written in the upper right corner of the cover), and proclaimed it, on the inside front cover, as having been published by Little Golden Books since all my books, in fact, were. I then promptly sold out the entire print run (of one) to my aunt, who proclaimed it wonderful. Not bad for a first book—sold out, and to a rave review!

Frankly, though, I forgot about that until after my first grown up book was published, a mystery novel called Angel’s Bidding in 1993. (That one was not such an easy sell.) By then, my aunt had died, and my uncle remarried. His new wife found The Fireman mixed in a box of cards my aunt had kept, and she returned the little book to me. I was, of course, touched by my aunt having kept my little book all those years, and also surprised, bemused and enchanted by it. Seeing it, holding it, brought back the memories of ‘publishing’ it and ‘selling’ it, and reaffirmed how much my dream of creating stories meant to me.

Since 1993, I’ve had eight other mysteries published (in two series); after the last series wrapped up, I was in search of another project. Nothing seemed to feel quite right, until along came the idea for My One Square Inch of Alaska.

I attended a book club gathering several years ago, and during the chit-chat before the book discussion, one of the women asked if anyone remembered the deeds to one square inch of Alaska that used to come in cereal boxes in the 1950s. (The question wasn’t related to the book we were discussing.)MyOneSquareInchAlaskaCover

The 1950s were before I was born, but my imagination was immediately taken with this compelling concept… the desire for a deed to one tiny bit of land in a vast frontier, and what that could symbolize. As I worked on the novel that grew from this concept, I realized (several drafts later, mind you) that my novel was really about the power of dreams: why we need them—real ones, that is, ones from our innermost selves and hearts; why it’s important to embrace and pursue them; why it’s just as important to encourage others along the way; and even the consequences of denying them, or pursuing dreams that are really illusions (for example, status for its own sake, or a lover who we see as a ‘type’ rather than as a real person.)

I think, in many ways, this was the novel I needed to write because it was the story I needed to hear. Sure, I’d published novels before this one, fulfilling my little-girl desire to tell stories, but I think I needed to remind myself, through telling this story, how important this dream still is to me: creating stories that move readers, that make them laugh, and cry, and want to read more.

It may sound funny, but with this novel, I feel more committed than ever to my writing dream. But what’s fun is that writing it, and hearing from readers now that it’s out in the world, has awakened me to other dreams I’d like to pursue with baby steps.

For example, I love to hike on nature trails. Now, most people who know me would chuckle at that, and for good reason. I’m rarely to be found on nature trails. I always seem to be busy with work or a social obligation; I tell myself that I’m not fit/athletic enough to really spend time walking/hiking nature trails on a regular basis. I seem to keep finding reasons to deny myself this pleasure.

But… when I do spend time walking nature trails, I find such peace and joy in it. It’s starting to feel more than just a little silly to keep putting off this simple dream… walking/hiking nature trails on a regular basis. And then, maybe, someday taking an extended multi-day hike on the rails-to-trails paths we have in abundance here in my home state of Ohio, or even on a portion of the Appalachian trail.

So, for my birthday this year, I bought myself a gift—hiking boots.Hiking Boots

And I’m slowly, intermittently, starting to give myself permission and time to actually use them!

It may be awhile before I’m a regular hiker or ready to start training to hike for a few days, but that’s OK. Dreams—writing and otherwise—as I seemed to intuitively know as a little girl (as perhaps all children know) begin coming true with the courage of a few, first small steps.

For more information on Sharon and her novel visit her website SharonShort.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.

Returning to Ballet in Your Fifties Dream Come True - DreamsCo

I'm happy to introduce a new phase to 101 Dreams Come True - sharing other people's stories of completing items on their life-lists. Every other Thursday I'll be featuring people who have dared to go after their dreams. I would love to hear your stories and share them with the world so please contact me. I'm proud to introduce you to an amazing woman Yona McDonough who not only writes fiction and has completed many novels and children's books, but also returned to ballet after years of leaving behind her dream of becoming a ballerina. I hope you find her story as inspirational as I have. Remember you're never to old to follow your dreams. photo

 

Once upon a time, I was part of a small army. The army was not made of soldiers, it was more like a children’s crusade, a throng of aspiring young ballet dancers that marched up and down New York City’s long avenues—Broadway, Seventh, Eighth—that were dotted, in those years, with so many studios.  The School of American Ballet, feeder for the New York City Ballet, was the most famous, but there were others too and it was at John Barker’s studio on West 56th Street that I took classes six days a week for most of my high school life.

Weekdays, class was from 4:30 to 6:00; Saturdays, it was at 11:00 a.m.   The studio itself was unremarkable: ruined wooden floor, bleached and pocked by the amber nuggets of rosin ground into its surface, long barres that lined three of the walls and full-length mirrors that lined the fourth. We spent about forty-five minutes at one of those barres, perfecting a series of exercises that had been born in the court of France and refined in the glistening winters of Imperial Russia.  Pliés, tendus, and  rond du jambs,  all executed to the strains of Chopin. The barre was followed by work in the center: an adagio, and petit allegro. Then there were the big jumps, like grand jetés, and some point work, which allowed us the giddy sensation of rising up on our toes, defying nature, gravity, and even, for a moment, mortality itself.  Finally, there was the obligatory reverence, in which we curtseyed to our supremely difficult and demanding teacher.

After that we were free—until the next day, when the ritual began all over again. For it was a ritual, and, as such, had its sacred preparations.  The brushing and winding of our hair into the tight bun, the sewing of ribbons on our ballet shoes, the donning of the requisite pink tights and black leotards were acts performed with both sanctity and love.

The studying of ballet creates its own kind of religious order, and the girls who do it are akin to eager novitiates, fired by their all consuming faith and their utter willingness to undergo daily mortification of the flesh. And as with religion, the ballet hierarchy decreed that there was an established scheme of things and that a young dancer could have a secure and known place within it.photo

When class was over, I once more joined the swarm of girls with turned-out walks and bony shoulder blades, girls who paraded down the street wearing the marks of their collective discipline: the buns, still wound painfully tight, the big, punishing bags weighed down with their heavy loads. We knew we were of a different tribe—recognizable and unique—and it filled us with pride. We were purified by our discipline, etherealized by our shining goal.

I loved being part of this elite. High school was a vague scrim; I had few friends, and no time for team sports (my brief experience of field hockey was like a tour in hell) dances, parties and the like. Instead, I fraternized with the other dance students; my best friend in those years was a girl who lived in the Bronx, the other end of New York, and went to a different school.  But joined by the blood ritual of our shared dance experience, she was my soul mate, my sister under the skin.

Still, my own vision of a future in dance was somewhat fuzzy. I knew my strengths: I was musical, I had a strong jump and my point work was crisp. But I could not turn worth a damn, and I lacked both extension and a certain vital ferocity of attack.  I was content to live in the daily-ness of it all—that was for the moment sufficient.

Yet after years of single-minded study, I abandoned the ranks of the ballet girls quite abruptly.  No one was more surprised by this turn of events than I was. It happened like this: after twenty-four years of marriage, my father left my mother for another woman. Worse—much worse—was that I had changed, overnight it seemed, from a girl who continually found favor in her father’s adoring eyes to a young woman who would never find it again.

The initial shock of his desertion was like a tidal wave; I gasped and sputtered in the cold shock and grief of it.   I impulsively decided that I could not tolerate one more day in the difficult and often abusive presence of Mr. Barker, and wrote him a letter to tell him I would not be coming to class any more. I wept all the way to the mailbox, but I did not turn back.  I put that life behind me, and focused instead on getting into college—I was a senior in high school at the time—and carving out a new identity for myself.

In retrospect, it seems to me that by wrenching myself away from something I had loved so deeply, I was both inflicting a kind of self-punishment as well as unconsciously imitating my father’s rejecting behavior. But at the time, I knew only that dancing belonged to the past, and the past was a country from which I desperately longed to escape.

For many years, I succeeded.  I locked the ballet girl I once was in a closet and never let her out.  I cultivated another self—one who attended college and graduate school, held jobs, went on dates and kissed scads of frogs before stumbling on a prince.  I found a vocation—writer—and turned it into a deeply gratifying career.  I married (the aforementioned prince), had children, bought a house in Brooklyn. But all that time, the ballet girl remained—mute, neglected and sad.  I could not afford to let her out; her presence was too painful to me, too much a reminder of who I had been and what, despite everything I now had, I had lost.

But even though she was in serious lockdown, this ballet girl grew restive and balked at her exile.  She did not want to be locked away; she demanded to be acknowledged.  Alarmingly, she was even able to crack the door a little bit; I could hear her voice and even though I still could not bring myself to let her out, I began to listen to it.

She told me a story about a ferocious young ballerina named Ginny Valentine and soon Ginny’s story became part of The Four Temperaments, a novel I began writing in the late 1990s.  In order to complete this book, I needed to start attending ballet performances again; I had not seen live dance in years.  So I returned to the theaters where I had once been a regular: City Center, the New York State Theater, and the Metropolitan Opera House. Most evenings, my eyes filled with tears as soon as the curtain rose.

The Four Temperaments turned out to be a waiting vessel; into it, I could pour so much of what I thought, felt and remembered from those years. It also was a kind of joyful revision of the past: my character succeeded as a dancer in a way that I had not.  It was a both a gift and privilege to write it and when it was published in 2002, I felt a kind of peace—even a sense of redemption—that went bone deep.4TSCOVER

Although the ballet girl was no longer locked away, I was not on the most intimate of terms with her; I still felt the need to keep her at some remove. But when I hit fifty, something shifted; I could feel the tectonic plates of self rumbling and rearranging inside. And even though I could not be that ballet girl ever again, I decided that for the first time in more than thirty years, I wanted to put on a pair of ballet shoes and resume my place in front of the mirror.

Yet I was not entirely ready to confront the “now,” and find it so sadly wanting when compared with the “then.” I had to live with the idea for a while, hoarding it like a delectable bit of candy that I had stolen: delicious, yet laced with both danger and shame.  Desire turned out to be stronger than fear, and on a bright September morning a few years ago, I showed up for a ballet class with four other women—all middle-aged moms like myself, nary a swan among us. My hair was short; no bun required. And the pink and black combo I remembered seemed to have gone the way of rotary dial, so my yoga pants and white T shirt fit right in, as did my black ballet slippers.photo

I was nervous after a hiatus of more than three decades.  But I was in some deeper way ready too, for I realized, if not now, when? Or more aptly, if not now, never.  At first, I was saddened by how much my body had forgotten: feet that no longer would point in a high clear arch, the arabesque that wobbled and quivered when I tried to hold it.  But I kept on, week after week, and was cautiously heartened by how much my mind had retained.  I still knew the names of all the steps. I remembered how to hold my head and my arms, to turn toward the barre, and not away from it, after the completion of an exercise.  And the joy I took in those small accomplishments outweighed the sorrow engendered by the losses.

True, I could no more return to the time I had been young and in full possession of whatever physical gifts I possessed, any more than I could soften my father’s implacable heart and bask in his love once again.  But I no longer had to banish the ballet girl to the closet or even keep her safely across the room. Instead, I could welcome her into my life, let her take me by the hand, and lead me take her hand and let her lead me back to the barre.  Back, in some true and everlasting sense, home.

I have been taking ballet classes since that September day, and with each class, I feel as if I am slipping, like Alice through the looking glass, past a membrane that is not impervious but gauze-like and permeable.  Behind it is the realm of girlhood. I no longer have that girl’s lithe, unmarked body, nor her hopeful innocence; what I have instead are the talismans of youth that I can see and touch, and the graceful geometry of the exercises and steps, precious in their eternal familiarity, humbling in their eternal novelty.  And I can immerse myself again in the loving austerity of the rigorous, yet generous discipline that once shaped and governed my days.

For more information on Yona McDonough or her books click the images below.WeddingInGreatNeckhighres4TSCOVER

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 To Find Out More about Yona go to her website : www.yonazeldismcdonough.com

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.

Knocking Ourselves Down Instead of Building Ourselves Up - DreamsCo

Today is a rather glorious day for me. My book, THE LAKE HOUSE, that's hitting the shelves in three weeks, arrived on my doorstep. It was an incredible moment.IMG_0145 Last week I was near tears, alright if I'm honest in tears, worried about the fate of my novel. I was also stressed about stepping out onto the ice at the National Adult Figure Skating competition for fear of falling on my face in front of people. I felt like everything was falling apart, and I thought about canceling my trip and hiding under the blankets.

Then I competed and for two minutes ten seconds I let it all go and I flew across the ice. My skating felt wonderful and everyone told me that I was beaming to the rafters. I took the bronze medal out of fifteen solid skaters.

The next day I had marketing meetings with Gallery Books / Simon & Schuster and found out all the incredible work that had been done behind the scenes. By the time I took the ice on Friday night for my second number I was beyond emotional as I realized that all the years I spent hoping, dreaming, praying, and keeping my vision alive had really paid off. The emotions came harder as I skated to the song, "On My Own" and the judges obviously felt it because they awarded me the silver medal

It's strange how we believe the worst is going to happen. We fear all the things that could go wrong that we don't even wish to take the leap. It's a weird part of human nature - the fear of imperfection or failure will keep us knocking ourselves down and hiding from our biggest dreams.

Last night I saw Dove's Youtube video "Sketches." It had women sit in a chair behind a curtain and describe themselves to a forensic artist. Then the artist sketched another photo of the same woman using a strangers description who had seen the person very briefly. Ultimately, the description from the stranger was more beautiful and true to life. Watch the video.

What if we saw ourselves not through our perceived flaws and fears, but through the beauty of who we really are? What more could we accomplish in life and how much happier would we be?

It's not easy to walk past fear or old beliefs: you're not good enough; no one in your family has done it so why should you be able to; I'm too fat; too ugly; I hate this about myself; I'll make a fool out of myself; I might fail. What if we turned that into: I'm grateful for everything I am; I'm going to enjoy this moment and have fun no matter the outcome; I'm going to go for everything I can because if I don't there's no chance; I believe in me and it doesn't matter what other people think.

Imagine what your life could be if you believed in you. That's what I did and it wasn't easy, but wow was it worth it!

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!

Elegant Bridal Designs - DreamsCo

MK-21_2There's something so satisfying about owning your own business: you have control of your dreams; you make your own hours (though sometimes that's every hour); you create something that's uniquely yours; and the possibilities are endless. When I made my list of dreams I wanted to be a professional novelist more than anything, but I also wanted a business that was fun, didn't take up all my emotional being, and was there to build a strong financial future.

I'd thought that I'd build a motivational company inspiring people to go after their own dreams, but I realized after starting this blog I didn't want to turn my journey into a business - it was too personal. If it became something more on its own, then that was fine.

IMG_8684_3As I went after my dreams, the money became an issue. I didn't have a career and the writing wasn't taking off. My savings were dwindling and I was beginning to look at waitressing jobs in order to get by. That's when my best friend approached me to invest in his bridal business. He needed capital to buy products from China to sell in the United States. I wasn't really interested, but he's a good friend and I wanted to help him.

Over the year, the business did okay and I received dividends that kept me going financially without a whole lot of time investment. I found that I was having fun helping him, and I enjoyed going to bridal shows seeing all the products we could sell. I especially enjoyed meeting female entrepreneurs who were going after their dreams of owning their own companies.

The more small companies I came into contact, the more I wanted to create an online boutique with couture products. I started working with web designers and it took another whole year to create a beautiful online Bridal Boutique filled with shoes, purses, dresses, and jewelry many made in the United States.

Because of  Elegant Bridal Designs I've been able to complete more of the dreams on my list.

When I began this journey, I had no idea how I was going to make my dreams come true, but doorways opened. Somehow I ended up in the bridal business, a career I'd never imagined, and I love it with all my heart. I mean really, what girl doesn't want to be surrounded by beautiful items everyday.

For more information go to www.elegantbridaldesigns.comEBD Ad

Buenos Aires Dream Trip - DreamsCo

Considered the Paris of South America I arrived in Buenos Aires with high expectations: beautiful architecture, incredible food, tango dancing in the streets. All my friends who'd come to this city told me that I would never want to return to the states. I couldn't wait. But what was this? Why did the streets looks so dirty? Why was there so much poverty intermingled with wealth? And who was spraying graffiti everywhere? For the first time since arriving in S. America I was afraid to walk the streets at night alone. Where was Paris? Where was the dancing? Where was the city I was looking for?

My friend Jim joined me from the states. We walked the city along Embassy Row. Here the buildings were beautiful and I finally understood why they call it the Paris of the South, the buildings are similar in architecture. But this city wasn't opening itself to me like so many others had. We went to the cemetery where Eva Perone was buried and marveled at all of the mausoleums. We walked through a street fair, but I still wasn't coming to life. Was I becoming immune to the beauty of a city? Was I becoming over-traveled? We walked so much of the city that day and wondered what the heck we were going to do with the rest of the week.

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The next day proved to be different. We made our way to the Sunday Market. Here is where Buenos Aires comes to life. Miles and miles from the government center to bario San Telmo are vendors mostly selling Matte Cups but also clothing, jewelry, art, photography, and leather wares. Matte is huge in Argentina.

In San Telmo square we perused the vendors and watched live Tango performances. An incredible band played and handed out flyers to a local Milonga. I was salivating over the dancing and music and if I'd been alone on this trip, I probably would've spent my entire trip in Tango classes.

 

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We made our way along the roads listening to one band after another while eating empanadas, and drinking coffee for me - beer for my friend. We decided to walk to bario La Boca because it looked rather close on the map. Nope! About two hours later we arrived at the famous painted buildings with a few stops in a park, a museum, and ice cream. (I don't suggest you walk the entire city unless you're in great shape!)

 

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From here we made our way to Puerto Madeira - the modern waterfront. People were rollerblading along the shores of the riverfront. We followed a crowd of people and ended up at a free concert. Suddenly we were in front of a stage with a live band playing and everyone around us singing at the top of their lungs. Los Nocheros was the band and they were fantastic.

The city had opened up - the place beautiful. It's stunning parks intermixed with the grittiness of hard life. The people were kind and most of all I fell in love with the music and the dance.Copy of S, America 499

Iguassu Falls Dream Come True - DreamsCo

What is it about waterfalls that fascinate people? We flock to the large ones, making them into tourist destinations. We hike into jungles and take long drives on vacations to find the prettiest pool at the base of falling water. If there's a waterfall at the end of a hike we'll keep going just to make it there no matter how hot or tired we are. As I came to my first site of Iguassu falls from the Brazilian side, I thought, hmmm, is that it? I instantly caught myself and berated my mind for having this thought. People dream of seeing these falls their entire lives. I came so far to see them, and I was here. Maybe I just needed a nap and that's why it wasn't wowing me.Iguassa falls

But the first time I saw Victoria Falls its majesty brought tears to my eyes. What was wrong with me? I followed the other people as we walked the paved path. I felt a little like I was in Disneyland since I had to take a bus into the park and follow the crowd. But as I got further and further along the falls became closer. The pounding water soaked everyone in mist and the massiveness of the falls changed my perspective. This was phenomenal.

The next day I went to the Argentina side of the falls. Tired of long bus rides, a new friend and I took a taxi to the border, walked across the three mile stretch between countries in the heat, and then caught another cab to the center of town, where we took a bus to get to the falls. We were separated at this point and I had no choice but to follow the crowds once again to the base of the falls. This time, my first glance was a bit different.

Where the Brazilian side has the major part of the falls at a distance, on this side I was immersed in the power that is Iguassu. The pounding of the falls felt like the earth's heartbeat. It's not a constant sound but a swooshing every half second. The mist soaked my hair and clothing as the wind picked up, but I didn't care. These falls were the essence of nature's power and beauty.

I hiked for hours around the falls never tiring of their beauty. At the end of the day I met more friends and that night we went for dinner, had drinks, and I realized that I was ready to leave South America and head home. It was the perfect way to end two months of travel.

My words aren't enough to explain Iguassu, so I hope the pictures take you to this magical place for just a moment.S, America 2029 S, America 2027 S, America 2021 S, America 1989 S, America 1932

Getting Kicked Out of my Room in The Amazon - DreamsCo

Through books and movies I'd learned of the mystical Amazon filled with deadly creatures, malaria, and indigenous people who have very little contact with the world. The Amazon that I encountered was very different. First of all, malaria pills weren't necessary. Deadly creatures? Well there are poisonous snakes and spiders, but I'm not certain that anyone has been bitten in any of the camps. Indigenous people, yes, but many have plenty of contact with the outside world as scientists and tourists along with private hotels invade the area.Copy of S, America 290

I chose to go to the Amazon in Peru. From Cusco I took an overnight bus. Now the buses in S. America are very luxurious and the full sleepers are great. The seats were comfortable and almost fully reclined. After a light supper and a movie, the lights were turned low and I had eight hours to get some sleep before we arrived in Puerto Maldonado. But who knew that I had gotten onto the bus from "Harry Potter." The bus sped forward, rocking back and forth around sharp mountain passes only to stop short, flinging me forward as we came to a speed bump. Then we were off again at a break-neck speed.

Upon arrival I was a bit tired and really wishing I'd spent the extra money on a plane ticket. But soon I was on the Amazon River. The boat sped along the calm, muddy waters. I was there in the rainy season, but the skies were clear and bright blue. On either side of the river was thick jungle and Scarlett macaws sat in nests high in the trees and flew over us.Copy of S, America 300

At the small research camp I'd chosen far away from the tourist center of Puerto Maldonado, my room was built with logs, lit with candles, and had running water but no electricity. The dining hall had one generator where electronics could be plugged in for a few hours each night.

My guide handed me large rubber boots and with a machete in his hand we began our walk into the jungle. Green surrounded me. The moisture from the forest dripped from the plant leaves. Howler monkeys jumped from branch to branch and giant butterflies flew from one plant to the next. Vultures stared down at me. Ants made incredible condos under the ground. The leaf-eaters carried their food on their backs deep into the hive. There they chewed the leaves into a paste, spit it back out, and created a garden for mushrooms to grow. This is the food they live upon.

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Everywhere there was life. When darkness came we walked the jungle with only a flashlight. This is when frogs and spiders come out. Huge crickets with razor sharp hind legs made noise and always I could hear the buzz of the cicadas.

One night we took the boat downstream. On every bank were crocodiles. Tiny young ones would come to the boat and we tried to catch them, but without any luck. Then we saw a large one. He stared at us for a moment, then bored he went under the water not to reappear.

 

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There's plenty of downtime in the Amazon, when the day is too hot to do anything but relax. I swung in a hammock, drinking tea, my belly full of delicious food and I thought, I've gotten everything out of this adventure that I desired, but what I really want is to see a Scarlett Macaw up close. We'd gone that morning to the salt lick and watched hundreds of birds in the trees. Not unlike typical couples some of the birds were cozy with their mates and other's slightly ticked off. But though there were many green parrots, the macaws had eluded us that day.

Soon after this I walked to my room and to my surprise a visitor walked through my door. A bright Scarlett Macaw had decided to visit. He waltzed around, pulled the sheet off my bed and made a nest underneath the wooden frame. He decided he rather liked my space and that it was time for me to leave. The next thing I knew this Macaw was moving me out of my own room.

 

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Turns out, he's made the camp his home and though he's free to leave and rather wild he's lived in the camp for many years and is used to people so it took a human resident with a big broom to get him to give me my abode back.

The Amazon is being cut down at an alarming rate. It's without a doubt one the most precious gifts to humans from nature. Within the jungle lies cures to incurable diseases. The oxygen it creates is important to this world being over-filled with smog. If we keep harming our planet for instant gratification we won't have anything for the future.

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Patagonia South America - DreamsCo

There are perfect moments in life where you don't want to be anywhere else but in the place you are.

I sat in a field in Patagonia, Chile outside Las Natalias (a hostel unlike any hostel I'd ever seen). The sky was devoid of clouds and there seemed to be more starlight than darkness. Satellites moved across space and shooting stars streaked and died out. Soft guitar music was being played and new friends sat around me as people discussed life and philosophy. I barely knew anyone more than twenty-four hours, but I'd never felt more a part of a group than at that moment.IMG_9623

I'd always wanted to see the beauty of Patagonia and it's scenic landscapes didn't disappoint. Grand mountains surrounded lush green valleys. Small charming towns were located between winding mountain passes. Aqua rivers rushed beside dirt roads. Hikes brought me to peaks where I looked out over lakes and farmlands. The air was so pure I felt like I could breathe deeply and clear my lungs of the modern world, and the water could be sipped straight from the mountain springs without fear of sickness. The produce picked from local farms was bruised and ugly, but filled with taste and nutrition while free of all chemicals. Copy of S, America 162

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But even with this majestic landscape there's something more beautiful - the people. Within days of staying in Patagonia I was invited to barbecues. I joined friends around tables for home cooked meals. As I walked through town, I was kissed on the cheek and asked how my day was going. I immediately felt part of a community and at home.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and as I think about the early morning on the day I left, it still brings tears to my eyes. It never felt so wrong to leave a place, and never felt so right to know that I would return again some day.Copy of S, America 253 Copy of S, America 825 Copy of S, America 824 Copy of S, America 242

Canyoning Dream Come True - DreamsCo

   

I love to rappel. My brother brought me when I was thirteen and ever since I've enjoyed being on a harness, attached to a rope, and whizzing down a mountainside. I've been down into Moaning Cavern outside of Yosemite hanging among the stalactite and stalagmites. But there was one thing I'd always wanted to try - rappelling down a waterfall.

I got my chance in Futaleufu, Chile. A local single mom runs a great little outfit right out the back of her house. She handed me and two other guys wetsuits, helmets, and harnesses and then we took off through the thick wilderness. We stepped over a barbed wired fence, crossed a stream, climbed a hill, and we were there - on top of a waterfall.Copy of S, America 172

She attached the ropes, showed us how to lean out over the waterfall, and the first round she placed a secondary safety rope to ensure we didn't go too fast.

The adrenaline began to pump as I threaded my figure eight attached to my harness. The first step is always the scariest part of rappelling. You have to lean your butt back into the air and sit - well there's nothing to sit on - but you have to let the harness support you while your hips are at a 90 degree angle. This is easy on rocks, but when water is rushing all around your feet and the rocks are slippery, it becomes a bit more intense.Copy of S, America 180

I leaned back and began to let the rope slowly slide through my hands. The rush of the waterfall pounded beside me and over my legs. The spray covered my face and I laughed with excitement as I felt the water's power. In the past I'd sat under a small waterfall  for a few seconds and realized it hurt as the water slapped my head and I couldn't breathe or see. It wasn't the greatest experience. This was different. This was a pure adrenaline rush as I played in the water and descended into the pool below.

We spent the entire afternoon descending different cliffs and waterfalls in this beautiful area while sliding in mud as we made our way through the forest. It was a day I'll never forget and one I hope to repeat.Copy of S, America 223

Becoming an International Author - DreamsCo

Reading through my list you might realize how many of the items have to do with my writing career. When I began my journey I'd written a book, but was nowhere close to becoming a published author. The dream of seeing my story on the shelves seemed impossible, but it's something I wanted since I was a young girl. When I wrote the list I was simply fantasizing about a life I desired. The idea of The Lake House becoming an international book translated into many different languages was at that time so far out of reach that I actually laughed when I wrote the dream down.

Then one day, over four years later, I received a call from my agent Yfat Reiss Gendell at Foundry Literary and she told me that my book sang at the Frankfurt Book Festival. Publishers loved it and Leya, a Brazilian publisher, made an offer on the spot. Not only was my book going to be printed in North America, but it would be translated into portuguese by one of the best publishers in Brazil.

When I got off the phone, I danced around my house and out the door to my friend's house. I jumped up and down and screamed, "Thank you!" to the sky. I know, I'm kind of a dork, but it felt good.

My biggest dreams have now come true and the great part is that even though my list is almost complete, it's all just the beginning. The Lake House has interest in many more countries and hopefully soon more contracts will be signed. I get to live my life as a writer. I get to have my dream career. The world is opening up to me in ways I couldn't have really imagined when I made my list.

What I once thought was impossible has become my life.

For more information on Foreign Rights for The Lake House please contact my agent: Yfat Reiss Gendell at yrgendell@foundrymedia.com or by phone: 1 (212) 929-5292.