life-list

Learning to Tango Dream Come True - DreamsCo

   

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collection of Perfect Moments - DreamsCo

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

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

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

 

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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.

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.

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!

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

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.

Writer's Lunch Dream Come True - DreamsCo

For every aspiring novelist there's a brass ring we think about. Sure we want our books on the shelves. We envision our names and titles on the bestseller lists. We think about interviews. But the strange part is that almost every writer dreams of the author lunch. In publishing, most deals take place because of lunches. Writers and editors get together to create relationships and talk about upcoming projects. Authors who have reached the shiny package of a publishing contract know that at some point they will be in New York City, in a restaurant, with their editor and agent, maybe their publicist, and they will sit there knowing that their dream has come true.

At this first meeting, there's no worry yet of outcome and how the book will do once it's published. It's a moment of pure celebration.

My first lunch came at Christmas time in 2011. I was in town visiting a friend and had let me new editor, Lauren McKenna from Gallery Books know that I was in town. She immediately invited my agent and I to lunch.

The day before I walked around the city with my mother and friend. As we walked past Simon & Schuster my friend stopped me and made me look at the sign on the building. Here I was, this was my publisher. Better than any other present under the tree that year, was that moment of standing there knowing what I thought was impossible was now coming true.

The next day, I sat in the restaurant waiting (of course I was about ten minutes early just because I was excited and a little afraid of getting lost and being late). Lauren came in and immediately wrapped me in a hug. Her contagious energy had me smiling and excited as we sat.

As my agent joined us I felt more like was at a table with a group of girlfriends than a business lunch. We shared dishes, drank wine, indulged in dessert and talked about life, men, pregnancy, and whatever else came to mind. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by these two powerful, beautiful business women, I felt part of something special. Because the book business is special. Unlike anything else, this business isn't about a rockstar lifestyle or burying the competition. The book business, though tough and competitive, is about readers curling up with a book to learn, to get taken away, to feel and experience their own emotions through characters.

Over the last year as my book has made it's way to publication, I've had many lunches with my incredible team from Gallery and with my agent. It's become a part of my life, my career, and it's always a pure joy. My favorite though will always be that first one with Lauren and Yfat Reiss Gendell, but then again the one where my editor handed me my cover was pretty spectacular as well.

For more information on The Lake House or my life as an author please visit www.MarciNault.com or my author page at Simon and Schuster.

Friendship Among Many Religions - DreamsCo

If you want to enjoy time with people there's one rule - never talk politics or religion. It seems no matter how much we advance in technology we can't seem to stop fighting over who's right. When I made my list of dreams I decided I wanted to sit down with people from many religions and have an open discussion. Though I was raised Catholic, my mother brought me to the Ayurveda Maharishi Center to learn meditation, to Healing Arts Festivals with New Age Philosophy, and conversations about religion were never closed-minded. I had friends who were Muslim, Spiritual, Born-Again, Hindu, Mormon, and Jewish. No one ever had a problem with one another and one Christmas Eve my diverse group sat around my dining room table celebrating. But when I moved to California, I met a group of Christians who told me that I wasn't a Christian because I was raised Catholic.

I had no idea what to say to this comment. Aren't you Christian if you believe in the teachings of Christ? I didn't say much to their comment, but I did ask them if they thought that Christianity was the only way to get to Heaven. They commented that they felt that anyone who wasn't born-again wouldn't be accepted. When I asked about the billions of people on this planet who believed in other faiths, their answer again was - no only true Christians could enter and that their's was the only true faith.

Why do so many people on this planet believe that in order for their faith to be right everyone else must be wrong? I thought if everyone could sit in a room and realize that we're all just people, trying our best in life, that maybe it could end prejudice - at least in that room.

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This dream came about when I was invited to join a group at my church to go to the Salam Center (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims). Imam M. Azeez had put together a course bringing together Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths to explore the differences and likenesses of each religion to bring about peace.

For six weeks all three faiths sat together with great scholars, rabbis, ministers, and the Imam discussing history, faith, and misconceptions. At the hour of prayer for the muslims, we joined together hearing the Imam chant and prostrating next to one another.

I was never asked to convert, though learning each religion's beliefs made me want to join in their ceremonies. I was never told that any religion was bad or wrong, but instead that they're similar. They each teach the same principles: to be good to your neighbor: to love and trust something bigger and more powerful than yourself; to hold dear your loved ones; to not always give in to the pursuit of the body so to be able to listen to the spirit; that we need community; what we do to others we do to ourselves; and that we are more than just this human experience.

I'm certain there are many people who would love to fight me about why certain religions are wrong. I have friends who have been persecuted by radical Islam and had to flee their homes. I'm from the Boston Dioceses and know people harmed by Catholic priests. Every religion is made up of humans and at times humans can be faulty.

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But when it comes down to it, people turn to religion in search of more love and peace in their lives. Maybe if we could understand this we could stop persecuting others for different beliefs and accept that people need love, acceptance, peace, and most of all a feeling of belonging in this large world.

Photos by James Tennery

San Diego Dream Come True - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafting the Futaleufu - DreamsCo

I can hear the rush of the river as I stand by the aqua water. Mountains rise up around me, some with snow still on their peaks. I'm here, in Futaleufu, and a part of me still can't believe it. I've never seen a place so beautiful, untouched, and a part of my heart feels like I've come home - like I belong in this place.

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I pull on a wetsuit, the water coming straight from the snowpack is cold, and if I end up swimming it's my only protection from hypothermia. In truth, this water is warmer than the American River in California and the heat of the day is brutal. One the wetsuit is on, I jump in and float for awhile letting the water cool me off.

Then we're in the boat and I'm front paddle. Three men and myself along with a guide. We go through the safety practices, falling out of the boat, being rescued by the kayaks and our fellow rafters. Christian our guide explains that the water is very high from recent rain and snowmelt, and Futaleufu doesn't have slow pools. Instead, it runs fast, hard, with large holes that eat boats and spits them out.

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And then we're in it. Powering down the mighty river, paddling hard through massive waves. Think the Perfect Storm kind of waves but in a raft instead of a boat (okay maybe not that big, but in that raft it feels like it). I try to paddle, but the boat is up so high above the bottom of the wave that my paddle catches water instead of air. Then a wave is splashing over me and I'm screaming with joy. It's a rush like no other - nature at it's finest beauty and power and me on its wild ride.

 

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When Christian does pull us into an eddy to explain the next rapid, I stare at the beauty around me. Far away from the craziness of regular life, I feel wrapped in mother nature's heart beat. Serenity fills me and I realize that there are companies out there who desire to dam this beautiful river for profit. For years, the town of Futaleufu and the few N. American rafting companies who run trips five months out of the year, have fought the corporations and government trying to protect this gem. But Futaleufu is tiny, barely anyone lives in this town. Many in the area still live a simple life of farming in this beautiful valley without the need for the outside world. Internet access is available in town, and they have a beautiful school, but life is simple here.

If they dam this river like so many others in the world what will it do to this amazing area. Are we willing to sacrifice our earth, the sanctuaries left, for a few to profit?

And then the boat is taking off again, plunging into waves, running past those huge holes, and I 'm alive, happy, and prayerful that this place will never be harmed.

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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.

Chilean Wine Country Dream Come True - DreamsCo

Hills of bright-colored buildings looked like they were cascading into the ocean in Valpairiso, Chile. Regarded as the San Francisco of the south, Valpairiso has been name a Unesco World Heritage Site. It's home to the first Spanish newspaper in the world which is still in print. It's bright buildings and architecture influenced by the French, Spanish, and English are marked with the artwork of locals or what some would call graffitti, but this graffiti might be some of the most beautiful in the world. Boutique shops are tucked in between colorful paintings, their wares as unique as this town. Along one street we stopped at a hostal where the owner had her art hung and painted on the walls, making one feel as if they'd entered a warm home. On another street, we knocked on a door and a man opened it and we paid twenty cents for homemade cookies. In this area of town you feel as if you've entered an art gallery instead of a neighborhood.

I didn't plan to visit Valpairiso, but as many of my dreams have come in unusual ways, a tourist company in Santiago that specializes in Valpairso and Chilean wine tours along with extreme sports asked me to write an article about them and so I got to meet four fun guys from England who were on the tour and see Valpairiso and Vina Del Mar along the way to seeing wine country.

To say that Casablanca wine region looks like Napa is an understatement.

Rows of vines stretch between green mountains. At Casa de Bosque winery the mind immediately comes to relaxation as the soft breezes cool the heat and rustle the vines at this stunning vineyard. The deep tones of pinot noir enlivened my taste buds as I felt the beauty of living tasting their award winning wines. The difference from Napa, well one everyone said that I had to book a tour and couldn't go on my own - a complete lie and if you plan to visit this region rent your own car and go on your own - but the wines cost about $9.00 a bottle for a really good bottle of wine instead of $80.00.

In going after my dreams I've been able to see and taste Napa, Chilean wine country, Tuscany, and S. Africa's wine country. No one is better than the other just the prices. Each one has barrel rooms filled with the smell of french oak. Steel tanks fill cement rooms, and rows of vines in valleys reach the mountainsides. Wine not only enlivens the spirit with it's warmth and taste, but it makes these regions some of the most beautiful in the world.

This trip in S. America has sincerely made me realize that the world, no matter where you are, has so many similarities. When it comes to travel, people fear the unknown, believe in the horror stories of the news, and for some the fear is so big they don't venture to other countries. So many people spoke of the dangers of S. America for a woman traveling alone as I planned my trip. What I've found is beautiful landscapes, people with warm open hearts excited to share their customs and country, and a lifestyle so much like my own at home.

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Santiago Dream Come True - DreamsCo

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Fireworks burst from the top of the tall cell tower in the middle of Santiago as people screamed Happy New Years in Spanish. I stood on top of the roof of the apartment I had rented on www.airbnb.com with new friends amazed at how life had opened to me. I was supposed to be in an airport at that moment, figuring that I didn't know anyone in S. America I had booked the cheaper flight that would cause me to spend New Years in customs. But then the man that had rented the apartment to me, Raul, had invited me to join him and his friends to bring in the New Year from the rooftop.

As luck would have it, I was able to change my flight from Rio and make it to Santiago just in time for the fireworks. When I walked into the apartment, I found that Raul had left me wine, food, and champagne to start my trip. On the rooftop I met his other renters hailing from Australia and Taiwan. Together we toasted travel, new friendships, and luck by eating 12 grapes and making a wish for the year with each one we tasted. We lifted our glasses of champagne and I never felt more at peace in a new city.

The next day, Raul went beyond kindness when he invited me for lunch and brought me on a tour of his beautiful city. Here once again, my dream was greater than I could've imagined. Santiago is filled with European architecture, parks, wonderful artistic neighborhoods like Belle Artes, Belle Italia, and Belle Vista. We climbed the hill of Santa Lucia where the battle between the Spanish conquerers and the native Mapuchi took place many centuries ago. At the top of the hill we looked across this massive city to the Andes to the East and the ocean ( which can't be seen) to the west.

As we walked and talked, sharing ice cream (a huge part of Santiago culture) Raul spoke of how he lives his life - going after his dreams, envisioning his life, and making it all better by giving the most that he can to everything and everyone he comes in contact with. We spoke of the syncronicity of life and how when you allow life to open to you amazing things happen.

When he took me to Chile's capital building, he explained that a few years ago, Chile sent a few men to Chicago to study with American economists. These men, called the Chicago Boys, returned to Chile and since then Chile's economy has thrived. Funny, do you think Chile could send back the Chicago boys to us?

In Belles Artes, I sat in little cafes drinking fresh juice smoothies and people watching. Okay, Chilean men are pretty good looking too. In Belle Italia barrio, I shopped in funky antique shops and home decor stores that were laid out in between car repair shops. In Plaza des Armes I went to church in the cathedral where the priests chanted as incense gave the church a surreal look.

In the modern part of the city, Providencia, I shopped in the tallest building in S. America which just opened a few months ago and walked along the river park. I stopped for juice in a little cafe and spoke with a kind older gentleman who scolded me for not speaking Spanish.

But as beautiful as this city was, it was my friendship with Raul that made this dream come true dear to my heart. If you are ever in Santiago, rent his apartment www.chile4rent.com. Visiting him is worth more than the city itself.

Walking Through the Fear of Going After Your Dreams - DreamsCo

I know it’s been two months since I’ve blogged about going after my dreams. To be honest, I’ve been too busy going after my dreams to keep you updated. Today I leave on a ten week trip to South America. If I was a normal person I would’ve gone to a travel agent, booked a tour or hotel rooms and flights and have been done with it. Instead, I’ve gone the solo route and have completely booked my trip on my own. For over a month it was a full time job as I did research, booked flights, found ways to stay in nice places on a budget, and figured out the logistics of such a massive trip. People have said to me that I should’ve just packed a bag, booked my first hotel and figured it out from there. I’ve done enough travel to realize that I hate that way of travel. I like having the logistics done ahead of time, unless I’m traveling domestically, and while I’m in another country I can spend all my time exploring and enjoying.

While booking this trip I encountered tremendous emotions. For one, my constant companion for the last 14.5 years, my cat, Max, decided it was time to leave this planet. He’s been a little miracle kitty this past year surviving a pitbull attack and then cancer. Then one night he just decided he was done. He jumped the fence (something he’s never done) and disappeared into the night within seconds.

The emotions I experienced took me by surprise. The loss and pain was so deep I found myself walking around in a trance. Three weeks passed and I wasn’t feeling better. Then two new kittens entered my life. They’d been abandoned at five weeks and needed love and attention. These little creatures purred and snuggled their way into my heart. Whenever I’m home they are attached to me, and now I had to face the fact that I would need to leave them with my business partner for over two months. 20121220-191203.jpg

Suddenly I had an intense need to not go out into the world and explore, but to be home. As parts of the trip didn’t come together even with hours of research I kept thinking about canceling. Once my Christmas tree was up with it’s warm glow, the feeling of wondering why I can’t just be a content home body crept into my psyche and all I wanted was safety.

But after years of going after my dreams, I know this feeling. I liken it to when I step on the ice to compete and my legs are shaking and I feel almost sick with nerves. I’ve come to accept the feeling when I skate as I have for the beginning of a new adventure.

I’ve wanted to see S. America most of my life. If I chickened out due to fear or an internal desire to stay safe, I would look back and regret it for the rest of my life. So here I go. Today I fly to Boston for Christmas and then next week I’m on my way to Brazil, my first stop on an incredible journey.