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

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

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

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

The Power of the Female and Male Spirit - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Timing - Being in The Moment - DreamsCo

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

The Power of Determination - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

 

Learning to Tango Dream Come True - DreamsCo

   

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Boston Pops Fireworks

 

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Lake House and A Flying Trapeze - DreamsCo

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

Chicago Tribune Pick

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

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

A Bucket-List for Summer - DreamsCo

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

THE LIST

Ride roller coasters

White water kayak at least five times.

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

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

Go camping at least five nights.

Go to Monterey and Carmel.

Compete in two skating competitions.

Play on a trapeze.

Dance salsa in San Francisco and Boston.

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

 

What's on your list for the summer?

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lake House Video

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does The Seventh Grade Ever End? - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going After More Dreams - DreamsCo

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

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

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

Knocking Ourselves Down Instead of Building Ourselves Up - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Discomfort - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elegant Bridal Designs - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information go to www.elegantbridaldesigns.comEBD Ad

Buenos Aires Dream Trip - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Iguassu Falls Dream Come True - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Kicked Out of my Room in The Amazon - DreamsCo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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