The Lake House

A Mother's Dream ~ Meg Munson - DreamsCo

I met today's guest at Chick Lit Central. (I love the woman over at Chick Lit Central's website and Facebook Page who tirelessly champion for women writers and fabulous books so please check them out!) On the day of my guest blog they asked their readers to post their biggest dreams in the comments. I loved reading the comments and seeing so many women doing fabulous things in their lives. When I came across Meg's dream I had to contact her. Meg Munson wrote that her dream was to become a stay-at-home mom and she did it. What was once considered normal and expected of women, today is a very tough dream to realize. Most households need the double income to survive, but Meg had a dream and she found a way to do it.

Sometimes I believe there's a battle woman have whether they're stay-at-homers or working-moms that causes them to feel the pressure to stand-up for their choice. I think every woman should be supported in whatever choice she makes and I love that Meg fully embraces her dream.

Before I give you Meg in her own words, as many woman feel, Meg didn't want to self-promote so I'm going to do a little raving for her. You have to check out her website and all her talents and the amazing things she does. www.megmunson.com.

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Photo by Stacey Colton Photography

 

My name is Meg Munson and I am honored to be your guest blogger.  I am a mom to two beautiful girls ages 9 and 7 and I also have a very athletic stepson age 13.  I have been married to my husband for 10 years and I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom.  When my husband and I got married and decided to start a family, it was my dream to stay at home with our daughters. I did not want someone else to raise them.  My days are now filled with delight in watching each new accomplishment my daughters make.  I can't imagine missing their first smile, first step, first word or first day of school every year.  Being a mom has brought me so much joy and I am extremely grateful for finding a company that has allowed me to be at home with my family everyday.

After my first daughter was born, I started researching home-based businesses.  While on one of my favorite mom sites I came across a great article written by another stay at home mom.  It was all about these great gourmet candles and amazing all natural products.  I did a lot of research on the company and loved what I found. The best part about this company is they offered more than one way to make money. They offered retail, wholesale, and fundraising opportunities as well as building my own team.  There were no monthly quotas or commitments to join. I figured if this other mom could do it, than I could give it a try too. I love our products and they practically sell themselves. (I mean who hasn’t burned a candle before? LOL)  I have helped many other women and men start their own home business.  I have been with my company for almost nine years and have met the most amazing people and have found lots of joy in helping others achieve their dreams.

Don’t get me wrong there have been some bad days and struggles along the way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We have had to keep a tight budget and not go on as many vacations as other families, but we make it work.  My days don’t always go as planned, but that is the great thing about working at home. I can make my own schedule and work around my kid’s activities. (Boy do they have a lot and my first job is really a chauffeur!)  I know many women out there don’t think they can work at home with small children, but it can be done. Knowing what your schedule is like daily and writing it all down helps you plan out when you have free time.  Believe it or not there is free time!  I use this time to blog, make connections with new people, call leads or update my website.  I may only have an hour of free time during the day, but I am a night person and accomplish most of my work after the girls go to bed.  It is all a balancing act and knowing what is right for you.  If being a stay at home mom is one of your dreams, I am here to tell you it can be a reality.  The smiles I see on my girls’ faces are my reward and I can’t imagine anything better!!!

Collection of Perfect Moments - DreamsCo

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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?

 

 

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

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

 Click Here Buy the Book

 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!

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.

Getting to Futaleufu, Chile - DreamsCo

Out of all the travel on my list of 101 Dreams Come True, Futaleufu, Patagonia Chile was the number one destination I wanted to see. Tucked in the Andes close to the Argentine border, the entire town can be walked in ten minutes. There's no gas station, one bank that only takes American Express, and only one hotel and a few pousadas. So why did I want to explore this area? As an eternal white water junkie, I'd heard of the pristine aqua river with huge class V rapids. But whenever I looked into going to this region the cost for one week with plane tickets was over $6000. For almost ten years, I would look at the trip, drool over the pictures and then realize it just wasn't feasible.

When I decided to travel through S. America my budget for two months was a little over $8,000 so a tour company was out of the question. There was little on the internet on how to get to the area and places to stay were expensive unless I was willing to stay in small youth hostels in shared rooms.

After hours of research, I finally found a rafting company called Patagonia Elements that did day trips instead of an organized tour. Through email I learned how to get to the region by bus, taxi, foot, and a car picking me up on the other side of a border crossing. They offered a room for rent in their friend's home for $20.00 per night and my dream of seeing Futaleufu and rafting the rapids began to take form.

I arrived in Bariloche (one of the gateways to Futaleufu if you fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina)  the week before and made a reservation for a bus the following week to Esquel. Without the ability to speak Spanish I had my concerns. My adrenaline was running high the day I left the safety of my resort. I sat in my seat on the panoramic double-decker bus and began my five hour drive.

Mountains and lakes spread out before me as we traveled through Argentina. A few hours into the trip, through my usual miming and Pictionary I asked the bus drivers to let me know when we reached Esquel since this bus was taking a twenty-four hour drive all the way to the end of the earth in El Calafate and I didn't want to go that far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrived in Esquel without any problems and missed my connecting bus to Trevelin by ten minutes because I thought I had to buy a ticket before getting on the bus. But no problem, there would be another in half an hour.

Next stop Trevelin, Argentina where I would have to call for a taxi cab and make an international call to Chile to tell the people from Patagonia Elements when I would arrive at the Chilean border. Trevellin was too small to have a bus station and when the driver got off the bus, grabbed my luggage, and motioned for me to get off, I was rather nervous. There was one park, a few restaurants, and he pointed me to a house and left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What could I do? I walked to the house, realized it was the tourist help center. Once again, I played charades, pointed to maps, and handed over my international calling card. The man and his wife were very sweet and they made phone calls with concerned looks on their faces. At this point I had learned enough Spanish to hold a five minute conversation with their four-year-old daughter. They pointed to the clock, explained what I thought would be a two-hour wait and then took my luggage into the back of their home.

Without anything to do, I went to lunch, got some ice cream, and hoped that I was on the right track. Two hours later my luggage was out in front of the house, a beat-up Nissan that had a cracked windshield and wreaked of gasoline was waiting for me. There was no taxi sign and the man didn't speak English, but what could I do. I got in, and we drove into no-man's land on a rocky back road through a mountain pass along a beautiful aqua river.

An hour passes, I hadn't been robbed, left on the side of the road, nor has the car broken down. But now I'm being left at the border crossing. The road is not only dirt, but rocky and I have two rolling suitcases and I need to walk half a mile to the other side of Argentina to Chile. I start laughing at my predicament. There's no way I'm going to be able to drag these bags down the road.

Then two men show up in a station wagon. They go inside the border control, get their passports stamped, come out, load my bags into their car and tell me to get in with hand gestures. Well what the heck? They can only go as far as the border.

I got out at the Chilean border, they helped me with my customs forms, asked in Charades (my new found language) if I wanted a ride into town? I said, "No, I have a ride." and then they left. My ride didn't show up for another half hour but five families offered me rides.

But this is Chile in Patagonia - warm, friendly, helpful, and giving. So nine hours after my departure from Argentina I arrived in Futaleufu, where the adventure really began. But you'll have to read the next blog for that story.

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.